J. W. Leavitt & Co.

From Wooljersey

John W. Leavitt launched the J. W. Leavitt & Co. in San Francisco, after separating from his origin partner John T. Bill, with whom he ran the Leavitt & Bill bicycle, motorcycle and automobile enterprise, which began in San Francisco in 1894. J. W. Leavitt & Co. dealt in automobiles, moved to Los Angeles, became a major enterprise, but failed soon after its founder, John W. Leavitt shot his partner, A. D. Plughoff, then himself.

J. W. Leavitt & Co., Pacific Coast distributors of Overland and Willys-Knight motor cars, is the story of the growth of the automobile business. This concern, now the largest single distributors of motor cars in the world, has been identifled with the automobile business ever since machines were sold on the Pacific Coast.

The organization of J. W. Leavitt & Co. dates back even prior to automobile days.

In 1892 J. W. Leavitt came out to the Pacific Coast from Cleveland, O., and went into partnership with John T. Bill under the firm name of Leavitt & Bill, to distribute, bicycles. "Jack" Leavitt in those days was one of the champion bicycle riders in the country.

Headquarters of the Leavitt & Bill bicycle organization was maintained in San Francisco and branches opened up and down the Coast in all of the principal cities, including Los Angeles. They were soon the largest single distributors of bicycles in the world.


In 1898 "Jack" Leavitt found even his speedy bicycle too slow a vehicle for his ambition and bought a machine. It was a crude affair, and while Leavitt continued to sell bicycles, he "puttered" around with his automobiles, for he saw the day coming when the bicycle would give way to the motor car.

In 1905 Leavitt pulled out of the bicycle business, dissolving his partnership with Bill. J. W. Leavitt & Co. was then organized for the distribution of motor cars.

Besides Leavitt, the members in the new firm comprised A. D. Plughoff, A. R. Theisen and W. J. Pedlar, all of whom started in with the old Leavitt & Bill bicycle organization as office boys. Leavitt, of course, was made president of the new firm; A. D. Plughoff, vice-president and general manager; Theisen, secretary and treasurer, and Pedlar, assistant general manager, which positions all retain to this day.