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Alfred C. Fuller

AKA Alfred Carl Fuller

Born: 13-Jan-1885
Birthplace: Welsford, NS, Canada
Died: 4-Dec-1973
Location of death: West Hartford, CT
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Somerset, NS, Canada

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian Science
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business
Party Affiliation: Republican

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Fuller Brush Company

Alfred C. Fuller was born in Canada and raised in poverty, the eleventh of twelve children of farmers. He never attended high school, and came to America when he was 18 years of age. He worked as a gardener's assistant, train cleaner, delivery boy, and handyman before being hired to sell mops, washcloths, and brushes door-to-door in Boston. He was a good salesman but also a good listener, and he paid attention when would-be customers told him that the sample brushes in his case were poorly assembled and wrongly shaped for the tasks at hand. When Fuller relayed this feedback to his boss he was told to stop listening and sell more brushes. Instead the 21-year-old Fuller spent his life savings of $375 to buy brush-making tools, and went into business for himself in 1906.

For the next few years Fuller assembled brushes every evening in the basement of his sister's home in Somerville, just north of Boston, and every morning he carried his case of samples all across the area, marking off neighborhoods on a map after talking to someone at every address. The company's name changed as Fuller relocated -- at various times he called it the Somerville Brush Company, the Boston Brush Company, the Capitol Brush Company, the Hartford Brush Company, and finally the Fuller Brush Company, but every brush always came with a lifetime guarantee. Three years after assembling his first brush, Fuller's sales justified hiring a second salesman in addition to himself, but Fuller never hired salesmen. His sales staff (always men, until the late 1940s) were never employees, but always private contractors who bought brushes and other products at a 30% discount off the retail price.

Over subsequent decades "the Fuller Brush man" became an American icon, as tens of thousands of men knocked on millions of doors. In 1919 sales exceeded $1M annually, and by the time Fuller retired in 1968 annual sales were above $100M. Ubiquitous chain stores and suburban sprawl have made the door-to-door sales model almost obsolete, but the Fuller Brush Company still sells cleaning equipment and supplies on the web and via home-based sales staff.

Father: Leander Joseph Fuller (farmer)
Mother: Phoebe Collins Fuller (farmer, b. 1845)
Sister: Annie Fuller Gleason
Sister: Ashley Fuller Partridge
Brother: Chester Fuller
Brother: Douglkas Fuller
Brother: Harvey Fuller
Brother: Robert Fuller (d. 1933)
Brother: William Fuller
Wife: Evelyn Ells Fuller (b. circa 1887, m. 1908, div. 1930, two sons)
Son: Howard Fuller (Fuller executive, b. 1913, d. 1959)
Son: Avard Fuller (Fuller executive, b. 1916, d. 1992)
Wife: Mary Primrose Pelton Fuller (b. 1903, m. 1932, d. 1997)

    Fuller Brush Co. Founder, President, & Treasurer (1906-43)
    Fuller Brush Co. Chairman (1943-68)
    Naturalized US Citizen 1905
    Canadian Ancestry
    English Ancestry

Author of books:
A Foot in the Door (1960, memoir, with Hartzell Spence)



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