Kaiser, Henry John

Kaiser, Henry John
   Henry Kaiser began his career as a photographer in Lake Placid, New York, but moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1906 where he worked first as a salesman and then in highway construction. In 1914, he established his own construction company in Vancouver, British Columbia. As his company expanded on the west coast, Kaiser moved his base to Oakland, California, in 1921. In 1931, he joined the consortium that won the bid to build the Hoover Dam and later the Bonneville Dam and Grand Coulee Dam.
   In 1940, Kaiser won a contract to build cargo ships for Great Britain, and following America’s entry into World War II, he established new yards to produce “liberty ships” for the United States. His company became famous for producing one-third of the nation’s wartime cargo vessels. In 1945, Kaiser established the Kaiser-Frazer Automobile Company that was successful for a time in the immediate postwar period. However, faced with competition from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, the company ceased production in 1955. The Kaiser Steel Company and Kaiser Aluminum Company, however, continued to be successful. Equally successful was the Kaiser Health and Hospital Program that had began in 1938, with 1.5 million members by 1967. It was the country’s largest health insurance program. Kaiser retired to Hawaii in 1954 and devoted his time to developing the island of Oahu and sponsoring television programs.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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