The Watkins Man

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A portrait of Robert Lundberg, "The Watkins Man," in Mankato, Minnesota. An early example of the Watkins Man in his horse-drawn wagon. Courtesy of the Blue Earth County Historical Society via Minnesota Digital Library.

"You can have opportunities limited only by your own personal ambition, willingness to work and ability to follow our practical guidance!"

—"The Open Door to Success," J. R. Watkins Company promotional booklet

The direct-sales model used by the Watkins Company gave rise to the door-to-door salesman known as "the Watkins Man.” The Watkins Man was a traveling salesman who journeyed through America’s back roads via horse and wagon and later with an automobile. This model offered direct sales to the customers, as well as independence and autonomy for the Watkins employee. The Watkins Company prided itself on the knowledge that the Watkins Man knew his customers personally and selected products to meet their needs.