Nelson W. McLeod
A man's career in the commercial world may be remarkable for its rapid rise to prominence and yet not be of a meteoric character. A marked example of the young man in business who possesses in no ordinary degree the qualities of ability and progressiveness, and notably that of leadership, is Nelson Wesley McLeod, of St. Louis, Missouri.
He is well known to the lumber trade through his connection with one of the great wholesaling and manufacturing concerns of the country. He has gained an enviable reputation as a manager and salesman and has been especially identified with the hardwood business. His whole life's work has been characterized by thoroughness. By the trade at large he is recognized as a believer in organization, and he supports not only the association representing the branch in which he is directly engaged, but others; and retail associations generally have no stronger champion and none more ready to admit their claims to the consideration of the wholesalers and manufacturers than he.
Mr. McLeod comes of stock of sturdy New England, a section of the country whose very ruggedness seems to have impressed itself upon those of her sons who have gone into other sections and won success. He was born at Calais, Maine, April 28, 1860, and he is, therefore, just reaching the meridian of life. His boyhood days were spent in and about Calais, whose name has been celebrated in song and told in story. His education was such as was afforded the youth of the day in the little district school he gained the rudiments of an education. When thirteen years old his ambition led him toward a business career and he secured employment in the railroad service as a telegraph operator. For nine years he followed this occupation, becoming familiar with traffic matters generally.
Drifting away from his old home toward the West in 1882 he entered a new field, securing the management of a retail lumber yard at Centralia, Kansas. In four years his experience was such that he became capable of acting as manager of a line of retail yards on the Burlington & Missouri River and the Union Pacific railroads. His ability attracted the attention of A.J. Neimeyer, now of the Monarch Lumber Company, of St. Louis, who, at that time, was conducting an office in Texarkana, Arkansas. Mr. McLeod's headquarters were at Kearney, Nebraska, when Mr. Neimeyer induced him to resign his position and assume charge of the Neimeyer interests at Texarkana. Mr. McLeod remained there until the fall of 1890.
His next venture was in St. Louis, where he became manager of the St. Louis Refrigerator & Wooden Gutter Company. Two years later he made another change, this time from yellow pine to hardwoods. He took charge of the office and sales department of the Boyden & Wyman Lumber Company, of St. Louis, whose hardwood mills were in southeast Missouri. Later, this concern was reorganized as the McLeod Lumber Company. During the period he held the position of manager, until early in 1898, the company manufactured more than 120,000,000 feet of oak and gum lumber, this great output being marketed satisfactorily by Mr. McLeod.
In February, 1898, the McLeod Lumber Company, having cut all its timber, concluded to go out of the hardwood business, and Mr. McLeod bought an interest in the St. Louis Refrigerator & Wooden Gutter Company. On July 1 of the same year he took charge of the office and sales department of the company in St. Louis, with all the allied interests, and since that time he has held the position with conspicuous ability. With his associates in this concern Mr. McLeod, in 1899, purchased 72,000 acres of pine timber lands near the mill plant of the company at Gurdon, Arkansas, and Arkadelphia, Arkansas, which insures the life of these mills for many years.
Mr. McLeod's business methods are characterized by directness and force. While he has good judgment and is reasonably diplomatic, these are not his chief characteristics, though he is ever ready to change the direction of his effort when he sees that he has made a mistake, or that his work would be more effective along another line. But it takes sound logic to convince him, and while he believes he is right nothing can swerve him from his path. Perhaps his rugged, dogged persistence comes, in part, from his Scotch ancestry, but his self-reliant, independent characteristics are largely the result of his life training. His varied career has rounded the sharp corners and made him the practical, forceful man of affairs he is today.
He has had wide experience in association work, his first efforts in this direction being with the retailers. Then he joined in the work of the Southern Lumber Manufacturers Association as a committeeman, a director and as president of the organization. When the National Lumber Manufacturers' Association was organized, geographical location had something to do with the choice of the presiding officer. Mr. McLeod was chosen president of the Association by a large majority, and he was unanimously reflected the following year in appreciation of his development work.
As a factor in yellow pine distribution and by his skillful business methods he attracted the attention of bankers, and he became vice president of the German Savings Institution, of St. Louis.
In 1903 Mr. McLeod organized the business men of St. Louis in advocating the nomination of Hon. Joseph W. Folk for governor of Missouri. Mr. McLeod, as chairman of the committee, conducted the campaign, for both the nomination and election, against the combined forces of the Republican party and the machine element of the Democratic party. Mr. Folk's nomination and election testify to the character of the campaign. Mr. McLeod was urged to continue in politics, but he has no political ambitions and upon Mr. Folk's election retired from active participation in the party councils.
Mr. McLeod married, in 1884, Miss Alice G. Albon, of Cobden, Illinois, who, with their two children, makes Mr. McLeod's home the most attractive spot on earth to him. The children are Eloise and Gertrude. Mr. McLeod is a charming entertainer of intimate friends, and the social side of his nature is distinct in its delightfulness. He is a lover of music and is somewhat of an expert amateur in photography. He is vice president of the Mercantile Club, of St. Louis, which embraces in its membership prominent men of the Mississippi Valley men who have made St. Louis the city it is today. Mr. McLeod rarely visits the club, except for lunch or business during the day, preferring the comforts of home to life at the club. He is a member of the Glen Echo Golf Club, St. Louis' leading country club; he is a golfer, a billiard player of ability and is fond of any pastime which requires skill and which his exhaustive business affairs allow him opportunity to follow.
Mr. McLeod has led a very active life and already has achieved that for which many men work all their lives. He bears a high reputation among his fellow lumbermen as a manager and as a successful marketer of lumber.