Surprisingly, it’s a virtually untold story until now: a made-in-Detroit saga, little known because family-owned R.L. Polk & Co. never sold public stock, never published quarterly sales and profits. But it was a true American trailblazer in establishing information itself as a highly valuable product. It’s a story of innovation, entrepreneurship and reinvention; a nation […]
When young Ralph Lane Polk hopped a train in 1870 and went from town to town selling directories, little did he know that he was planting seeds for not only his company but also several industries.
This story originally appeared in DBusiness. No company, no family has done more to track the trajectory of America and its people than R.L. Polk and Co. From the aftermath of the Civil War to the 21st century, from railroads to the automobile, and from computers to cyberspace, R.L. Polk has chronicled the movement of […]
Over its 143-year history, R.L. Polk & Co. served the United States and its citizens in times of peace and war. The first Ralph Lane Polk served in the Union Army in 1865 as a drummer boy during the last year of the Civil War. After mustering out in 1870, he moved to Detroit and started his company, which would go on to chance the way that Americans do business.