Coffin, Charles A. - from United States

ID: 34514
Organization: CFR-M
Country of meeting: in the year 1922

Cofounder and first President (1892-1912) of General Electric corporation. Chairman (1913-1922).

He moved to join his uncle Charles E. Coffin at his shoe company in Lynn, Massachusetts at the age of 18, where he spent the next twenty years. Eventually he established his own shoe factory named Coffin and Clough in Lynn.

In 1883, he was approached by another Lynn businessman, Silas A. Barton, to bring to town a struggling electric company from New Britain, Connecticut, finance it and lead it. With the engineering work of Elihu Thomson, Coffin was able to build up the company, renamed Thomson-Houston, to be an equal to Thomas Edison's companies. During this time they deployed power plants in the South, including two in Atlanta, Georgia to run the electric lighting and in 1889, Joel Hurt's electric streetcar line.

When General Electric was formed from Thomson-Houston and Edison's companies, Coffin was its first chief executive officer. The company was tested quickly during the Panic of 1893, where Coffin negotiated with New York banks to advance money in exchange for GE-owned utility stocks.

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