by Harvey Davidson et al.
The story of Olivetti’s taking over the Underwood Corporation in the United States might be a footnote in the overall history of Olivetti. Although there are far fewer individuals, as well as a lesser number of divisions involved, the taking over of Underwood was one area that up to a point was responsible for the investment to be justified and successful. This was the sales division in the early 1960s through the mid 1960s. It was also a time when one individual, among many, stood out. We would be remiss if we didn’t respect and acknowledge the career and accomplishments of the late Robert (Bob) Blumberg.
He was born in Brownsville, in the eastern part of the borough of Brooklyn, New York, the oldest of five brothers. Bob served in the U.S.Army during the Korean war and after his honorable discharge, he attended the City College of New York and earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees taking advantage of the GI Bill of Rights which entitled him to free tuition.
After graduating he joined Olivetti as the Director of Advertising. Bob was very bright and extremely creative with a talent for writing and organizing and working closely with colleagues he developed sales and advertising materials and brochures. He had a great appreciation of the written word and he immediately understood whatever he read. According to several associates who have combined to write this about Bob, he was one of the brightest men they ever met. There was a time in his life when he created a “new thought” every day; that’s 365 original thoughts in one year. Those thoughts were in addition to the creative thoughts he gave to his job and family. His efforts included traveling to all the newly acquired Underwood branch sales offices to aid in the transition to Olivetti Underwood.
Shortly after joining Olivetti Bob became the Director of the newly formed Consumer Products Division. At the time the only consumer products were the Lettera 22 and Studio 44 portable typewriters. The entire “division” consisted of Bob, one salesperson, Jerry Camina, and a secretary. In 1961 the sales force became three. Bob was there when David Napell and Jack Gillen were hired and joined him when the merger took place.
With the actual acquisition of Underwood in 1962, the Olivetti sales force merged and inherited the Underwood sales force and Olivetti Underwood had a cadre of sales representatives across the entire USA. Bob was then asked to leave consumer products and to work on a series of special projects for the new organization.
Bob ultimately ended up developing and leading the Copia Division and he was there when we left Olivetti. He was soft spoken, but a natural leader. He was a natural teacher and a fine mentor who was interested in your learning and your success. Also, he was self effacing, with a wonderful sense of humor (and he could, and did) find a pun in everything. He operated below the radar, accomplishing his mission(s) without fanfare. In addition, he was a very faithful friend, as well as a wonderful family man.
David Napell, Sales representative, Brooklyn, NY branch; Consumer Products Sales Representative, 5th Ave New York Branch; Consumer Products Representative, Northern California; Consumer Products Sales Representative West Coast; Consumer Products National Sales Manager (1961-1969)
Irwin Davidson, Sales Representative (5th Avenue, New York Branch; Sales Agency Supervisor (Alabama and Florida); Branch Manager, Louisville, Kentucky; Branch Manager, The Bronx, New York; Branch Manager, Newark, New Jersey (1960-1967)
Harvey Paul Davidson, Sales Representative (Downtown, New York Branch), Special Accounts Sales (Downtown, New York Branch); Sales Agency Supervisor (Michigan); Copia Specialist, New York (1961-1966)