James A. Mitchell
JAMES A. MITCHELL is an Iowa business man whose basic achievement consists of having built up an organization known as the Gold Bond Products Company, at Denison, a manufacturing and jobbing organization known all over the state through its traveling representatives and through its relations with fifty jobbing houses outside of Denison. Mr. Mitchell has mastered his business, that of beverage manufacture, and is undoubtedly one of the most successful men in the country in that field.
Mr. Mitchell was born, January 6, 1877, on an Indiana farm near the town of La Porte in La Porte County. When he was a child his parents moved to the Ozark region in Southwestern Missouri, near Springfield, and he grew up on a farm there, getting his education in country schools and later attending the normal school and the Southwestern Business College at Springfield.
Mr. Mitchell has been an Iowa citizen since 1902. For a couple of years he worked on a farm near Woodbine and since 1904 his home has been in Denison. His first connection in a business way with the city was as a liveryman.
On May 1, 1907, he and William Savery bought a small bottling plant, which had been established ten or fifteen years earlier in a private residence. Mr. Mitchell in 1915 bought out his partner, and his own name now appears on one side of the substantial two-story brick block which houses the manufacturing, distributing and office branches of the Gold Bond Products Company.
After getting into this business Mr. Mitchell not only showed his energy in widening the scope of distribution, but made a thorough study of beverages, made constant effort to improve the quality and the superiority of the manufacturing processes of the Gold Bond products, and those in a position to know realize that this business is in every real sense a reflection of the personal character and ability of its owner. When he first entered the business the capacity of the plant was solely limited to the manufacture of soft drinks, about fifty cases a day. Every year enlargement has been made of the facilities so that the plant is now capable of turning out between 1,600 and 1,800 cases very ten hours.
A few years ago a line of fountain supplies and fixtures were added, and in 1928 a line of hotel chinaware and silverware. In addition to the main office at Denison the company maintains warehouses in Onawa, Sac City, Holstein, Cherokee, Storm Lake, Carroll, Boone and Harlan. Mr. Mitchell has advertised his business and in recent years has increased the publicity of the business through the radio. Another fast selling feature of the Gold Products Company's business is the Gold Bond Breakfast Syrup, which has been a part of the manufactures of the company for several years.
Mr. Mitchell from 1917 to 1924 was secretary of the Iowa Bottlers Association. Largely through his leadership a short course of instruction was instituted and has had valuable results in the general improvement of the standards of manufacturing and merchandising on the part of the association.
Mr. Mitchell married, on December 20, 1911, at Marshalltown, Iowa, Ina Pearl Conkling. She was born in Illinois, but was reared in Marshalltown, Iowa. They have a daughter, Ruth Arline, born February 10, 1914. Mr. Mitchell is a thirty-second degree Mason and Shriner, has been a member of the Denison Chamber of Commerce since 1907, and has served as chairman of its board of directors. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Denison, is a Republican, and a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Mitchell and wife and daughter in June, 1930 visited France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and England. His trip to England took him to the birthplace of his father, where the Mitchell family lived for generations. His hobby is traveling, and his leisure time is spent in motoring.
Source: Edgar Rubey Harlan, The People of Iowa with Special Treatment of Their Chief Enterprises in Education, Religion, Valor, Industry, Business, etc., The American Historical Society, Inc., Chicago and New York. 1931.
Transcribed by Debbie Clough Gerischer, Iowa History Project