• Source: Yost
This was in many ways just another late factory project, very much FBG's bread-and-butter work, but is of special interest in that it was the first job in which Frank Gilbreth attempted to put Frederick Taylor's ideas to work. While the attempt to implement piecework rates for the bricklayers was firmly rejected, a failure, it is the first full step Gilbreth took from construction to efficiency and management consulting.
The project is described as two buildings, a 4-story plus basement factory of 60×425-440 feet, and a 4-story plus basement office building of 60×60 feet, all of brick and iron construction.
Heywood & Wakefield was one of the largest makers of furniture in its day, originally making rattan and rush-seated furniture and expanding into nearly every other wooden good including toy baby carriages and tricycles. Their later wooden furniture is avidly appreciated and collected.
Despite considerable attention to this project and the attempted implementation of a part of the Taylor System to the job, details are frustratingly sketchy. It seems that Frank Gilbreth's goal was to prove (as much to himself as Taylor and everyone else) that Taylor's system could be adapted from factory and warehouse work to the construction field.
His approach, with Taylor associates Sanford Thompson and Horace K. Hathaway supervising, was to implement a piecework pay rate for the bricklayers. By adopting his proven methods and taking pay based on productivity rather than a simply hourly rate (of about 60 cents), the bricklayers involved almost certainly would have made more money. However, the unions and workers strenuously rejected the already-disliked “stopwatch system” and the attempt failed.
It is also notable that this may have been the first time Lillian Gilbreth was actively involved in Frank's work; it is reported that she, while in late pregnancy, helped devise and write up the motion-saving methods the bricklayers were to use.
Frank Gilbreth would try again, successfully, with the Atwood-McManus plant in Chelsea, not quite a year later. He would then have union troubles, and what he referred to as his first strike, on the paper mill project in Québec when he tried to implement similar pay alternatives.