ALFRED WILLIAM ("Eric") ERICKSON, son of a Swedish engineer, was a kindly, rotund gentleman whose affable manner concealed one of the shrewdest business minds of his day and the same kind of boundless energy that was the hallmark of his friend Teddy Roosevelt. Long before he merged his prospering advertising agency with another to make McCann-Erickson, he had piled up a fortune by investing in products for which few others saw any future. Once, for example, he heard about an unsuccessful roofing material called Congo. He bought the company, painted the material a different color, turned it into a profitable floor...

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