On Eagle's Wing

About James Austin Turner

"Yours for Keeps". Jim and Linerieux were married in Columbia, South Carolina. With a new bride at his side, more money and maybe a new career were needed. Industrial sales seemed to offer greater personal opportunity than the grocery business, and new innovations in electric welding machines were the product he chose. Through employment with Marquette Manufacturing Company, Jim Turner gained a basic knowledge of the welding industry by selling to automotive and industrial supply distributors. Initially, he sold in the Carolinas, but his territory expanded from Maryland to Florida when he was promoted to district manager. Extensive travel proved to take its toll on their personal life. Mr. Turner was twenty nine and it was time to start a family. Mrs. Turner wrote a letter to him offering to keep his books if he would spend more time at home. On August 30th, 1940, James Austin Turner III was born, followed by Judy Turner on October 9, 1943. Through the encouragement, help, loyalty and determination of Linerieux, the pair founded National Welders Supply Company on May 1, 1941.

With $500.00 cash, a car, confidence and personality, Mr. Turner acted as a manufacturer's agent for some product lines, while carrying a small stock of welding items he could obtain on consignment from different suppliers. Soon he located the business in a leased storefront on South Tryon Street in Charlotte, NC, where, with the help of two of early employees, George Harkey and L. B. Mann, the old "eagle" logo was developed, based on the National symbol. In 1951 the lease ran out on the Tryon Street building and Mr. Turner was forced to move before he was ready. A small, single story building was purchased at 810 Gesco Street near the General Electric Supply Company, and a determination to own property rather than lease was born. Money was always tight, but Mr. Turner, as a natural entrepreneur, used other people's money to his advantage, whether buying on consignment or arranging extended payment terms. As money came in, he was always reinvested, either back into National Welders, or over the counter stocks of competitors (to gain relationships, ideas and financial statements), or often in what would today be called IPO's.

Mr. Turner's other major investment was in people. He personally set the pace and carried the vision. His growing family of employees worked long hours in what were often difficult conditions, knowing that Mr. and Mrs. Turner were probably working longer and harder than anyone else. His focus, always, was to grow the business, and National Welders was a labor of love, as a parent to a child.

World War II presented opportunities to anyone supplying material for manufacturing. Labor was in short supply, so he set up a school to train welders to work in shipyards on the East Coast, advertising for students to "help win the war and earn big wages". He marketed opportunity. He offered low tuition and terms, no deposit, and a pay-after- graduation plan, assuring students they could keep their present jobs while learning electric arc welding.

Yours for Keeps
To Linerieux
"Yours for Keeps"

Jim and Lineriuex Turner
Jim and Lineriuex Turner