Tennessee the Volunteer State 1769–1923: Volume 3
page 517
Albert E. Mahannah was reared in his native state and after leaving the public schools pursued a course of study in Oberlin College. Later he became identified with the lumber trade and thus entered upon a career which has brought him eventually to the head of the Kelsey Wheel Company of Memphis. His identification with the lumber industry in the south dates from 1900 and for several years thereafter he operated sawmills and conducted lumberyards at various places. In 1905, however, he came to Memphis, where he began the operation of a medium sized mill under the name of the Mahannah Lumber Company, its location being at the junction of Plum street and the Illinois Central Railroad. His business constantly grew and developed, for men soon recognized the fact that he was familiar with every phase of the lumber trade and knew the value of timber and moreover, held to the highest ethical standards in the conduct of his business. In 1912 he sold his plant to the Kelsey Wheel Company of Detroit, Michigan, which corporation had previously for several years been the purchasers of his output. It was, therefore, advantageous for Mr. Kelsey to finance the plant which Mr. Mahannah should manage in the center of the hardwood belt, making wheels and bodies for eight large automobile companies complete. Mr. Mahannah, therefore, was designated as general manager and in the erection of the North Memphis plant he built what is considered to be the best hardwood sawmill in the United States, as well as the largest. Today the plant furnishes employment to four thousand workmen. It is supplied with the latest equipment and machinery for the mechanical handling of the material and product known to the trade and many new inventions have here been introduced. The dry kilns are second in size only to those erected at Dayton, Ohio, for the Wright Brothers to fill their airplane war contracts. The complete plant has a monthly capacity of fifty thousand automobile bodies and eighty thousand sets of automobile wheels and the output furnishes the entire supply of wheels for the Cadillac, Studebaker, Hupp, Dodge, Maxwell, Paige and Hudson cars and a large part of the Ford wheels, the Ford plant using all that the Memphis factory can supply. In addition to the development of the plant in this city Mr. Mahannah purchased nineteen thousand acres of land for the Kelsey Wheel Company, in the vicinity of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, and there built the highest priced log railroad in the United States on which to get out this timber. In the management of the gigantic enterprise under his control he displays notable administrative ability and executive force, combined with wonderful powers as an organizer. He has studied the question of production from every possible standpoint and in the mills under his control he has brought about a maximum production at a minimum expenditure of time, labor and material–which is the secret of all success. [p.517]