The Sayre & Fisher Company's Role in the Growth of Sayreville, New Jersey
The importance of the company to the development of the town of Sayreville is underscored by the fact that the town was named as tribute to the company's co-founder. The S & F Company was the seed from which the town grew. Availability of employment attracted numerous immigrants, who settled in the area, gradually swelling the local population. The company's attitude toward its workforce was essentially paternalistic. It had established the only general store in the community and carried a broad range of merchandise to serve not only the employees but also the residents of the town and transient boatmen. Most of the company's executives started out as clerks in the general store. The paternalistic attitude of the company was underlined by its extensive construction of workers' barracks - permanent, good-quality row houses that were rare outside of an urban setting.
The company also established a multi-purpose reading room. The first floor contained a quasi-gymnasium (where dances were held occasionally), and the second floor was used for meeting of fraternal orders and other social purposes. At its peak in 1920, the S & F company had 1,700 employees and was the largest employer in town and one of the largest in the state. Starting around 1899, the S & F Company's central power plant grew into a public utility, Sayreville Electric Light & Power (SEL&P). SEL&P and its Successor, Jersey Central Power and Light, provided electricity to the entire town of Sayreville and the surrounding communities, including many industrial facilities in the area.