Nominated in 2015. After graduation from Berlin High School in 1936, Ben Seaman was working in a factory in Milwaukee when the 2nd World War began. Because that industry was essential to the war effort his entry into the U.S. Navy was delayed. It was while he was on ship in the South Pacific that he read about a new car to be built and sold in the “States.” He wrote to the Kaiser-Frazer company asking about a franchise. He got his answer at another port and the Berlin native became an automobile dealer. Thus, the West Side Garage was born. The first home for the dealership was an old ice cream factory.
Seaman built his West Side garage business, selling over 1,000 automobiles from 1946 to 1953. With the exception of one dealer in Milwaukee, the Seaman agency became the largest in Wisconsin, setting records for the company even though those cars were not the most popular in the American market.
While on a hunting trip in Canada, Ben was stricken with polio in 1952. He was able to overcome the disease but he walked with a noticeable limp for the rest of his life.
Over the next several years Seaman added new dealerships to his stable of cars and added property to grow his West Side dealership to encompass an entire city block. He also purchased a bus company that still operates today….Mascoutin Transporation.
His interest in his community, its welfare and its people are evident by the number of organizations he belonged to, worked for, and lead. He was one of nine men who started the Berlin Community Development Corporation, a corporation dedicated to bringing new businesses to Berlin.
His huge entrepreneurship is matched by his generosity in helping other people start up their own businesses. He was always willing to sit down with anyone and share with them his experiences, successes and failures. Ben Seaman had an ‘open door’ policy long before the term became a catch phrase for society.
His favorite saying was: The harder you work, the more successful you will be.