Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson is a book for you if you are an entrepreneur or even an inspiring one. The main character, young Henry Reed, embodies the traits of a successful entrepreneur. Henry Reed is the son of an American diplomat stationed in Naples, Italy and goes to a school for American children. Since he is spending his summer holidays with his mom’s brother, Al, and sister-in-law Mable in Grovers Corner, New Jersey, his teacher, Miss Prescott asks him to keep notes on his experiences and report on them in the fall when he returns to school, and if possible, involve himself in a free enterprise. Young Henry is now on assignment.
While Henry’s aunt and uncle are driving him home from the airport, they spot a beagle in the road. The dog adopts Henry who names him Agony. Although Henry places an ad in the Lost and Found section of the newspaper, no one claims Agony.
His uncle and aunt live in a small community and all the boys his age are away for the summer. The only person who is close to his age is 12 year old Midge Glass whose father is a chemist. Uncle Al tells Henry that there are many research firms in New Jersey that employs chemists, scientists, engineers and physicists.
Henry discovers that the lot beside where his uncle resides belongs to his mother. The enterprising 13 year old decides to start his own research firm, Henry Reed, Inc on his mother’s land. Midge sees Henry painting his sign and asks him what kind of research he plans to conduct. She explains to him the difference between pure and applied research and offers to work with Henry in the firm if he asks her nicely. For Midge to get her name on the business sign, Henry tells her that she has to contribute to the business. She offers a pair of “great big white rabbits with black spots” – Mathilda and Jedidiah, except the latter had run away weeks before. Henry tells Midge that her name will go on the sign when they catch Jedidiah.
Beagles have an excellent sense of smell, and are great at finding and chasing things, especially rabbits. The scenes where Agony chases Jedidiah are quite funny, and you see the dogged determination of the children and the dog, although they do not succeed in capturing the rabbit.
Midge and Henry are great problem solvers, taking the time to figure things out, and know when to ask for help. They are excellent salespeople, and know how to promote themselves. When a reporter comes by when traffic is backed up because the tractor he is driving stalls, Henry tell him about his business venture and gets free media coverage in the newspaper. Henry is very curious, always asking many questions. He is very flexible in his entrepreneurial endeavours, switching products to suit demand, and knows how to capitalize on opportunities.
For instance, there is a lot of rain which causes a huge crop of mushrooms because of the dampness. His aunt points out the non-poisonous ones and Henry harvests and sells them. He also digs up earthworms and sells them to men who like to fish. He and Midge learn about a technique called dousing, which is used to find oil. Midge excels at it and while practicing she discovers an area where oil is supposed to be. It turns out that it’s a sunken tanker and Henry extracts the oil and sells it.
They paint the turtles they find and sell them. They sell pigeons and rabbits. Although Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson is found in the children’s section of the bookstore, this is a great book for adults because we can learn so much from the entrepreneurial spirit of these youngsters. Their ability to try something new is simply stunning, and they are not easily daunted by setbacks. They invest some of their revenues into the business and deposit the balance into their bank accounts. Midge and Henry recognize their strengths and capitalize on it.
The book is also very funny and you will find yourself laughing many times. I recommend Henry Reed, Inc. by Keith Robertson because it demonstrates what entrepreneurship is about, and it is still relevant today even though it was first published in 1958.
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