Elmer Winter, co-founder and past president of Manpower Inc., passed away yesterday at the age of 97. Since his retirement in 1976, Winter kept regular office hours at the Manpower World Headquarters and took tremendous pride in watching the small business he co-founded in 1948 grow to a $22 billion Fortune 120 employment services firm with offices in 82 countries.
"It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Elmer Winter, one of the most beloved keepers of Manpower's history, culture and values. While Elmer was cherished by our present-day employees as a warm friend, charming historian and gregarious storyteller, we also honor his remarkable impact as a trailblazing entrepreneur, generous philanthropist and talented artist," said Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres.
From the day in 1948 that he opened a tiny Milwaukee staffing office with his brother-in-law, Aaron Scheinfeld, through his retirement in 1976 and beyond, Winter was passionately committed to Manpower's values for the dignity of people and the meaningful role of work in their lives. Among many other philanthropic and social initiatives, he started the Manpower Foundation and Youthpower, an initiative to provide summer job placement services to Milwaukee teenagers.
"Elmer was a role model for everyone in the Manpower organization regardless of position, age or function. He was a dedicated family man, a tireless worker, a compassionate manager, and a loyal friend," said Mitchell Fromstein, former Manpower Inc. CEO (1976-1999). "He set the standards by which his successors would operate and set the stage for unbridled growth. He was, and will continue to be, an icon of the Manpower culture."
Winter, whose first job in 1922 was delivering fruits and vegetables by horse-drawn cart to brewery workers along Highland Avenue, worked until the last week of his life just steps away at the Manpower World Headquarters. He delighted in personal contact with members of the Manpower family and welcomed all visitors to his office, taking particular pleasure in meeting international visitors and new employees. One of Winter's last public functions was the September 10 dedication of a plaque at the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency on Third Street and Kilbourn Avenue, marking the site of the original Manpower office.
Winter frequently expressed wonder when reflecting upon Manpower's worldwide success.
"I could have never imagined it - becoming president of a company that would one day have offices across the globe," Winter told filmmakers creating a documentary commemorating Manpower's 60th anniversary in 2008. "I was not an outstanding kind of a guy that was bound to succeed. I was just a nice guy."
As the median tenure of CEOs is seven years, Manpower is unique among Fortune 500 companies for stability and continuity in leadership. Winter was succeeded as CEO by Mitchell Fromstein, from 1976-1999 and Jeff Joerres in 1999. On November 14, 2008, all three rang the closing bell of the New York Stock Exchange to mark the company's 60th anniversary.
Winter was deeply committed to philanthropy, making a difference in Milwaukee and around the world. The varied causes he supported ranged from Milwaukee's Clarke Street School, which he "adopted," to the economic development and stability of Israel. He was recognized for forming the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel (CEGI) and serving as its leading voice, advocating trade and investment in Israel for over 30 years.
A proud father, grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of 13, Winter was passionate about youth education and employment opportunities around the world. He wrote numerous articles and 13 books generally related to practical business and employment advice. An artist of unique abilities, Winter created hundreds of paintings and sculptures given as gifts and now displayed in offices and homes around the world. In December 2007, Winter participated in the dedication and opening of the Manpower/Elmer Winter Sculpture Garden, now a highlight of the Milwaukee RiverWalk District on the Milwaukee River. The garden features "To Dream the Impossible Dream," a sculpture that Winter fashioned from car bumpers, fused together to reach toward the sky.
Winter was born in Milwaukee on March 6, 1912. Educated in Milwaukee Public Schools, he entered the University of Wisconsin in 1929 and graduated with a degree in economics. He went on to the University of Wisconsin Law School, receiving his degree in 1935. After graduation, Winter worked as a tax editor in Chicago before returning to Milwaukee to practice law with Aaron Scheinfeld, his brother-in-law, with whom he eventually founded Manpower.
Winter was preceded in death by his wife of 54 years, Nannette (Rosenberg), in 1990. He is survived by his wife Hope (Melamed), three daughters, Sue Freeman, Lynn Winter Gross, Martha Gross Tracy, son-in-law Robert Tracy, his eight grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.
Memorials can be made to:
The Elmer Winter Memorial Scholarship Fund
The Manpower Foundation
100 Manpower Place
Milwaukee, WI 53212
About Manpower Inc.
Manpower Inc. (NYSE: MAN) is a world leader in the employment services industry; creating and delivering services that enable clients to win in the changing world of work. With over 60 years of experience, the $22 billion company offers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle including permanent, temporary and contract recruitment; employee assessment and selection; training; outplacement; outsourcing and consulting. Manpower's network of 4,100 offices in 82 countries and territories enables the company to meet the needs of 400,000 clients per year, including small and medium size enterprises in all industry sectors, as well as the world's largest multinational corporations. Manpower focuses on raising productivity through improved quality, efficiency and cost-reduction across the total workforce, enabling clients to concentrate on their core business activities. Manpower Inc. operates under five brands: Manpower, Manpower Professional, Elan, Jefferson Wells and Right Management. Web site is www.manpower.com.
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