1966 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Be willing to take a chance, and do so honestly and energetically."
Samuel Levinson grew up in the 1930s in Cincinnati. His father owned a furniture business that eked out a meager living for the family. Looking back on those years, Levinson said, "It was very good for all of us to think that things were dicey and that you had to fight for survival-it kept you from being too frightened." To help out, Levinson worked as a soda jerk, a truck driver, and a magazine salesman throughout his high school and college years. He attended the University of Cincinnati, where the tuition was $50 a semester, and earned a degree in economics.
Levinson began training for the law in 1940, but was drafted a year later. During his five years in the Army, he was responsible for feeding all troops in the China-Burma theater and for building, maintaining, and supplying B-29 fields there. When he returned to the United States, he felt he was no longer cut out to be a lawyer. Instead, after a marketing business he started with two friends was dissolved, Levinson became sales manager for Alabe Crafts, a toy manufacturer. Three years later, he left to go into partnership with an insurance agent. They eventually developed two companies and three agencies with $20 million in assets.
In 1956, Levinson went into business with a newly developed electronic device that could weigh coupled railroad cars in motion. By 1975, the company had expanded into 30 countries on five continents. In 1979, the company, Railweight, Inc., merged with Mangood Corporation, of which Levinson was a director and vice president until 1983.
His own company, Samuel Levinson and Associates, Inc., was his next creation. The business helped American companies transfer technology to businesses in India. Levinson believed that the Indian subcontinent will be the second largest economy in the world by 2025.
When asked what advice he would have for today's young leaders, Levinson said, "It would be the same advice I would have given 20 years ago: To make your ideas succeed, you need innovation and courage. We've had that in America, and that's why we lead the world. It's very gratifying to be a part of the Horatio Alger Association. I'm proud to be part of a group of people who had the character, purposefulness, and intellect to move ahead in career fields that had a lot of competition."* Deceased