As the new scion of Mullard, I have just received by e-mail a question as to whether or not SR Mullard was an unpleasant man to work with. Many had commented that Stanley was a ‘rough diamond’ with little formal education. Most of his bad press seems to stem from the contretemps between himself and CO Stanley in the days before CO was the owner of WG Pye. At this time, Mullard was looking for sales expansion and CO Stanley as the charismatic owner of the marketing agency ARKS, hit upon a grand scheme whereby a new magazine entitled Radio for The Millions would be produced which extolled the great virtues of Mullard’s PM series valves.
The first edition of the magazine was penned with a range of four tried and tested radio designs which could be built by the home constructor for as little as two pound and fifteen shillings. The idea was that funding for the magazine would be sponsored by component manufacturers but they were not particularly forthcoming and Radio for The Millions was majority funded by the Mullard Company. In a pilot study the initial uptake of this magazine was slow and CO Stanley hit on the idea of advertising in The Daily Mail hence ‘gifting the magazine to the nation’. All the interested public had to do was write to Mullard House and lo and behold a free copy would be sent to them by return mail. The only fly in the ointment was the cost of that advert in the Daily Mail which would cost some £900. Stanley Mullard didn’t want to stump up the dosh but the silver tongued CO Stanley talked him round. The photos below show, on the left, CO Stanley in 1929 and Stanley Mullard a little later in 1955.
The Daily Mail advert ran in early December 1926 appearing in a Saturday edition of the newspaper. Come Monday morning, Stanley Mullard and CO Stanley gathered at Mullard House to see what effect the advert had produced – the post came and went ............and not one single response was received as a product of this expensive advert. Stanley Mullard, it is said, exploded in apoplectic rage and was said to have roundly cursed CO Stanley in a particularly vile and vitriolic manner. This tirade went on for some time and was cut short only by the arrival of a special mail delivery – the response to the advert was so great that the volume of mail could not have been conveyed by a standard mail delivery!!!!! Stanley Mullard apologised and soon went on to reap the rewards of this campaign by capturing the valve supply for 25% of all radio receivers home constructed during the 1926 – 1927 financial year.
So, the above example portrays a brusque abrasive chap with a hair trigger temprement, however, it seems he was also capable of great empathy, kindness and concern for his employees. It is reported that Stanley Mullard spent a lot of time on the shop floor of the Mullard works, always keen to, as Tom Peters would say some 50 years later, ‘manage by walking round.’ Stanley would always listen to his workforce, particularly on advice of how to improve production methods. It is said that his staff were entirely loyal to him and not one employee withdrew their labour during the General Strike of 1926. Other examples of his empathy were demonstrated if an employee was found to be not performing, in which case they were give an two week leave of absence, if you had a managerial position, this was expanded to a four week leave of absence. This philanthropy came at a price as refreshed from your holidays one was then expected to then step up to the mark!
Some have postulated that Stanley’s lack of formal education was due to a mild form of dyslexia, however, this did not prevent him from running what was to become the largest and most revered valve manufacturer in the UK or once he left Philips-Mullard to become quite a celebrity within the rose and carnation growing circles. It is said that the Mullard family had a Siamese cat which was fond of – as cats are wont to do – to perambulate, micturate and defecate throughout the garden - even amongst the carnations and other shrubbery – did our Stanley's volatile temprement surface and was he ever heard to lustily bellow I’LL KILL THAT COOKING FAT! To that particular question, this scion cannot comment further.