As we were running down a little bit of information on Rensselaer’s Huyck Felt Mill, once one of the principal employers in that railroad town (other than the railroads, of course), we came across this little snippet from a 1919 edition of Textile World. A section called “The Personal Page” highlighted notable events in the lives of America’s textile makers, including this brief story relating what the mill’s Edmund Huyck learned from a trip to Japan:
Edmund N. Huyck, president of the F.C. Huyck & Sons Felt Mills, Rensselaer, N.Y., who recently returned from a tour of Japan, was the principal speaker at the luncheon of the Albany Rotary Club last week, and gave an interesting account of his experiences in that country. Mr. Huyck treated the subject of his address from the standpoint of a business man, and one of the points brought out was the evident lack of efficiency in the large manufacturing centers. He said that the work in that country did not equal that of the American industrial world and could not be compared in any manner. Mr. Huyck spoke of the growing military power of Japan, saying that America need have no fear from this direction as the utter lack of production in Japan would prove the undoing of that country in the event of a war, since Japan depends entirely upon its international commerce.
In fairness, Japan’s broader post-WWI military adventurism was another decade off, and its rise as an industrial power even further off in the future. But still, interesting to see how wrong you can be.