John Anderson

John Anderson

Chairman of the Board
(1914 – 1929)

In 1873, 16-year old John Anderson joined Pfizer as an office boy at 81 Maiden Lane. His first job, in his own words, was "to dust the desks and make the fire." This industrious office boy was to remain at Pfizer for 56 years and along with his son, George, would play an important role in Pfizer history.

Two years after joining the company, John Anderson was promoted to sales representative and, in 1882, headed to Chicago to open the Company's first Midwest sales office and warehouse. After a decade in Chicago, Anderson was brought back to New York as a general manager.

In 1900, Anderson's valuable contributions to the Company were recognized when he was granted one share of Pfizer stock by founder Charles Pfizer, Sr., when the Company was incorporated. (The founders' heirs, Charles Pfizer Jr., Emile Pfizer, and William Erhart, each received 33 shares with a par value of $100 a share.) A year later, Anderson, now a director, made an agreement with the owners that he was to receive 25 percent of the Company's net profits.

In 1905, John Anderson became chief executive officer of Pfizer, the first person who was not a Pfizer or Erhart descendant to bear that title, which he held until 1929. Anderson, who advanced from office boy to chief executive officer through hard work and dedication, was a leader with vision. Long before health plans, unemployment insurance, or social security, Pfizer, under Anderson's leadership, established an employee emergency reserve fund, a bonus plan, and a holiday gift program.

One of Anderson's most notable accomplishments was to foresee that citric acid production was destined to be of major importance to Pfizer. Shortly before World War I, with imports of the key raw material of citrate of lime threatened, Anderson established a research laboratory chiefly to develop a process for the production of citric acid from sugars by fermentation. In 1923, Pfizer began full-scale commercial production of this important fine chemical.