1967 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"You need the right idea, and then you just work hard to make it happen."
Elmer Winter was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1912. He attended the University of Wisconsin in 1929 and graduated with a degree in economics. He went on to the University of Wisconsin Law School and received his degree in 1935. He worked as a tax editor in Chicago before returning to Milwaukee to practice law.
Forced to hire temporary workers to meet an important deadline, Winter and his partner conceived a business that would supply a temporary labor force. They named their part-time program Manpower Inc., and opened a small storefront office in downtown Milwaukee in 1948. In its first year of operation, the company lost money. Winter thought of closing the business, but decided to give it one more year. The business caught on and soon went beyond his expectations. The success of Manpower led Winter to open offices in other cities nationwide and around the world. By the time he retired in 1976, Winter had opened Manpower offices in 20 countries. Today, the company has more than 4,300 offices in 72 countries and is one of the largest employers in the United States.
The thought that so many lives have been improved because of Manpower's role was a constant source of pride to Winter. "We were one of the first service businesses to franchise," he said. "Many people come to see me today whose parents started a Manpower franchise in the '50s. Now they have joined their parents and are operating a successful family business."
During his years at Manpower, Winter was active in a number of programs aimed at helping minority youth find jobs. He began a program called Youthpower, which provided free summer job replacement services to teenagers in the Milwaukee area. After retiring from Manpower, Winter founded Operation 4000, a nonprofit organization that provided job training for Milwaukee youths ages 18 to 24.* Deceased