Mark finds a partner and starts his company. An unexpected fight earns him respect. Early success in the market attracts new investors and new pressures. Methods of tapping natural resources take a disturbing turn.
Mark asks Sam for the money to make auto tires that are sold with a rim that can be hooked onto the wheel. Sam knows nothing like this is on the market and he expresses interest. But when he learns the automakers are committed to the current ‘clincher’ tire and the patents are held in an eight company pool that restrict franchising, he nearly bows out.
Mark says they must bust the pool. He convinces Sam the public will buy his tire and the ‘clincher’ will be obsolete by the time they would be sued. After a tense negotiation and much vetting, Sam agrees to provide Mark the money but only on partnership terms, 50/50. Hence, The Mann Rubber Company is born.
Mark moves from the backroom of the bike shop into a rented room in town. He purchases a brick foundry and four acres of land with access to the main railway tracks along the river. While purchasing the necessary machinery from nearby Akron, he also buys a genius.
Mark waits outside the Goodrich tire factory for Harold Swenson, a strapping Swede, commonly known as the best foreman in the business. Over a beer, Mark offers double salary and Mann Rubber Company stock to join him. Harold’s interested, but when Mark casually insults his Swedish heritage, the men exchange blows in a quick fistfight that earns each the other’s respect. An agreement is reached.
Jose Ruiz, a forty year old khaki clad field operative, leads a team of lieutenants, black men from Barbados, through the Amazon forest. They cautiously approach an Indian village where fearful primitive tribesmen stand ready to defend themselves. But Ruiz and his team come in peace. The tension is broken when Ife, Ruiz’s first deputy, reveals a bag of gifts. The Indians marvel over hand-mirrors and combs, junk from the civilized world.
Then El Barbadiano, a massive strongman in Ruiz’s group, reveals a chunk of white rubber, a solidified mass formed from the dripping tree sap found throughout the forest. Ruiz communicates with the head tribesman. He tells them if they bring rubber, he will give them more gifts. This excites the tribe. Everyone is pleased.
Mark’s rubber factory opens to little fanfare. In the second hour of operation the generator breaks down causing a delay. Harold fixes it quickly and the Mann Quick-Changer Tire begins coming from the molds.
Mark wastes no time hitting the road with samples, pitching in Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and New York. At first orders trickle in, but month by month sales increase by the 100s. Fire departments and trucking companies get on board.
As the auto industry grows, so grows the country. Short-haul freight businesses buy in and sales reach the 1000s. The factory quickly doubles in size. It’s a great start.
Brock Sylvester, a friend of Sam’s, and president of a large Cleveland bank smells a winner and arranges a $100k loan and invests some of his own money. He receives stock and a directorship in the company.
An antique launch packed only half full with raw rubber, disembarks from the pier at Oro Blanco collection center.
In the surrounding forest, the men and women of the Indian village approach hauling ‘jebe’, big chunks of rubber. They emerge from the treeline at Oro Blanco where Jose Ruiz welcomes them and their offering.
A small celebration follows as Ruiz’s team of guards and lieutenants give the natives more gifts, cheap watches and jewelry. Then bottles of alcohol are opened and passed among them. The Indians are too drunk to react when they are lead into a hut then quickly chained and locked inside. The Indians wail with guttural fear as Ruiz and his team stand back and admire their primitive catch.
Sam visits Mark with a real concern. The big automakers are boycotting them and the pool commission is starting a lawsuit. Sam explains if they can’t secure major orders from the big boys, they will soon be out of business. Mark’s brash answer is to target Frank Bennet, the most successful car maker going. His plan is to hook him with a price so low he won’t be able to refuse.
Sam warns that Bennet is man of religious and ethical character and rumors abound that he already has a major disliking of Mark and his carefree reputation. Sam lets on that he knows of Mark’s brothel visits and cautions him to clean up and get a wife. When Mark asks Sam about Violette’s situation and the rumors of an affair, Sam wonders what Mark has in mind then shuns the nonsensical thought of his daughter ever falling for Mark.
He leaves Mark with one serious command, “Sell to Frank Bennet!”