Doubtful Risk

The only decoration in the Philadelphia office of Samuel Simeon Pels is a bust of Abraham Lincoln, made entirely of soap. That is fitting enough: Samuel Fels, who celebrated his goth birthday last week, has spent a lifetime making soap. Still active as president of Fels & Co. (Fels-Naptha), which his father and brother founded 74 years ago, Soapmaker Fels put in a five-hour day, as usual, in his office across from the factory. Though he makes only soap and soap chips—and has never gone in for soap opera—Fels has steadily kept his company among the top ten in...

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