I have had a lot of fun seeing things that I have made in all sorts of uses, all over the United States. I am glad that my father encouraged my ambition to make things, for working at them has brought me the extra dividend of an interesting life. ~ A. P. Warner

Business Life
Warner sold his first dynamo (direct current generator) to the Gaston Scale Company in Beloit in 1886. He designed it to power 25 bulbs - it eventually powered 75. Warner's second unit, built for the Beloit Iron Works, powered 150 incandescent bulbs and three or four arc lights. The unit, completed in 1888, was required to power 75 bulbs. A third machine, built for the Beloit Straw Board Company, was completed in 1889. This unit, designed to power 200 lights, was still working in 1910.

Partnering with Wilbur Wiley, Warner built Beloit's first electric plant. The Wiley-Warner Electric Company used water power to spin its generator. The system first used 220 volts, and then, as demand for electricity increased, moved to a three-wire, 440 volt system. Demand for electricity continued to grow and water power proved insufficient. The company moved to a gas-powered engine to power its generator. The company was sold in 1898 at a loss.

Warner then went to work for Northern Electric Company of Madison, Wisconsin, in 1897. He first worked as an installer of electric motors and machinery; he later became a salesman. He relocated to the firm's Milwaukee office. While there, Warner invented a new elevator motor. Northern Electric built and sold the motor. The motor, according to Warner was "a great hit." Warner's successful sales efforts coupled with that of his improved elevator motor resulted in Warner's promotion to sales manager for the entire Northern Electric Company. The Stanley Electric Company bought Northern Electric and, a short time later, they were purchased by the General Electric Company (GE). Warner was transferred GE's headquarters in Schenectady, New York, where he worked until he left to begin his own company.

A. P.. Warner and his brother, Charles, formed the Warner Instrument Company with the financial backing of James Barclay, a manager for the Deere-Mansur Company (later John Deere), and other family members. The company's first stockholders meeting was held on January 3, 1904. Warner Instrument Company's first product was a speed measuring device called a cut-meter. The unit measured the speed of material spinning in a lathe. The company's first ad appeared in the April 1904 issue of American Machinist magazine. The cut-meter proved so popular that sales soon outpaced production.

Warner was convinced of the value of marketing. Warner worked with Albert Lasker of the Lord and Thomas advertising agency. Lasker is considered a pioneer in the advertising industry. Warner credits his company's success to Lasker, "Without a doubt, the success of the Warner Instrument Company was largely due to its advertising under Mr. Lasker's direction."

Warner's development of the auto-meter (auto speedometer) quickly followed their cut-meter. Speedometers were not yet standard equipment on cars and were needed even more than today. The Warner unit was the first that was driven by gears attached to the front axle. Willys-Overland was the first auto manufacturer to make Warner's auto-meter standard equipment, Cadillac was a close second.

A. P.'s marketing went beyond print media. He built a giant, 800-pound, working model of his auto-meter. The model, mounted behind the driver was gold-plated, and had windows so people could see the car's speed. Demonstrating the model, Warner was arrested when he purposely exceeded New York City's 10 mile-per-hour speed limit to call attention to his auto-meter. Warner also drove the car with the oversize auto-meter down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. When passing the White House, President Teddy Roosevelt came out to examine the auto-meter first hand. Warner also used his Curtiss aeroplane as an exhibit at auto shows throughout the country. The aircraft never failed to draw a crowd.

The Stewart Clark Company of Chicago began copying the Warner design resulting in a lawsuit that dragged on for years. The issue would be resolved in 1912 when Stewart Clark purchased Warner Instrument Company forming the Stewart-Warner Instrument Corporation.

A. P. became a real estate developer after selling his company. He bought nearly 50 buildable lots outside of Miami Beach paying $22,000 for all. Warner sold off lots when buyers approached him and met his price. He held onto two, "I soon sold most of my lots, kept a couple thinking that Mrs. Warner and I might like to build a little cottage there for winters. Before we got around to it, we had a million dollar hotel on one side, and a million dollar hotel on the other, and a little cottage between did not seem quite appropriate. So I sold the lots, which had cost $1200, for $75,000..." Warner also purchased a silver, gold, and copper mine in New Mexico. His Eighty-Five Mining Company would return a substantial profit as a result of demands for copper during World War I.

Not every venture was a success. The Warner Lenz, an improved auto headlight lens, sold a million pair in its first year. The World War would end its potential as glass became a rare commodity during the hostilities. The Warner Trailer Company designed a compact, two-wheeled trailer that, today, would be called a pop-up camper trailer. While thousands of would-be buyers flocked to wherever it was displayed, not one was sold. Other trailer designs, built for the military would be successful. Eventually, the company was sold to Fruehauf Trailer Company.

In 1927, after patenting a method of braking by electricity, A. P. Warner started the Warner Electric Brake and Clutch Company. Warner's last company became his most successful. The company's president until 1934 when he moved to the board of directors, he continued as a consulting engineer with the firm. In 1950, at the age of 80, he was awarded his last patent for a new electric clutch. That clutch and many other Warner designs are still being manufactured and sold by his former company.

Read more about A. P. Warner's personal life and his aviation involvement.