Industrialist Philanthropist Worker's Friend
An industrialist in a city of industrialists, Herbert Clark Stockham distinguished himself by his compassion for workers. Suffering with his family as economic depression closed his father's Chicago foundry in the late 19th century, then working alongside other employees at his father William's new foundry in Birmingham after 1903, Stockham won his compassion the hard way. The company founded as Stockham Pipe Fittings became his college and career as he helped it grow in business and moral influence.
Stockham joined the family business early, starting with a drill press in Chicago at the age of nine. Working weekends and after school in the struggling Birmingham business, Stockham developed drafting skills as he designed new equipment and machines. Laboring alongside the foundry's employees he learned not only about the family business but also about the needs and aspirations of the workers.
Without the financial means to complete college, "Little Boss" Stockham nevertheless advanced in his father's company. As a salesman, Secretary of the Company, Factory Manager and Vice President, he learned at every level and at every level advanced the "Stockham Creedo"--the Methodist family's devotion to the "golden rule" in all of its actions, most notably in labor relations.
By investing extensively in programs for the health, education, entertainment, financial stability and spiritual well-being of workers, the Stockham family gave to others what they valued themselves. Stockham's marriage to Virginia Cannon, the daughter of a Methodist Bishop, involved the family even more deeply in Christian philanthropy, not only in its business but also in its long support for East Birmingham Methodist Church South (now Stockham Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South) and Birmingham-Southern College.
Stockham became company president on his father's death in 1923 and led it through the tumult of another depression and WWII. The company thrived and Stockham became well known for his service to the community. His philanthropy, civic engagement, public faith and devotion to his family's values earned him a place in the Alabama Business Hall of Fame. More than an industrialist, Herbert Clark Stockham believed that good flowed from good and made the golden rule the measure of his success.