Growing with California
When Henry Adam Fischer was born in New York City in 1855, he was one among many first-generation Americans born to the European immigrants who had begun arriving in the thousands during the early 1800s. His forebears brought with them from Bavaria a craft, working in tile and marble, that young Henry mastered and used to gain financial independence at an early age. His work took him to the economically booming state of California, where he settled in Altaville, a small town outside of Stockton, in 1885. H.A. married in 1885; the following year he and his wife Mary had a son, Henry Prince. By the early 1900s, H.A. was installing marble and tile in both Reno, Nevada and the Stockton area.
Like his father before him, the younger Henry began working in tile and stone when he was a teenager. By 1906, the 20-year old had established his own business, Fischer Tile and Marble, in Stockton. Four years later H.P., as he came to be known, married Irene Mack; they eventually had three children, one boys and two girls. He brought his family to Sacramento in 1923, where Fischer Tile and Marble opened its third location. Henry’s father continued to manage the Stockton branch until he was well into his seventies. Long-time employee Charlie Rich took over as manager until his death in 1964, when the Stockton office was closed and Sacramento became the only Fischer location.
A third generation of Fischers entered the tile business in 1929, when H.P.’s eldest son, Henry Prince Jr. started high school and began working part-time in the warehouse. By the time he was 20, young Harry was managing the Reno shop. He eventually became a full-fledged journeyman, worked his way through all aspects of the business, and took over the company when his father died in 1945.
Over the next 45 years, Harry built the business into one of the largest tile contracting businesses in Northern California – and through the 1950s, the only one able to cut and install marble. The company was known for its well-trained, long-time employees and quality workmanship. Harry was fond of saying that tile laying is fundamentally an art, one requiring experienced, well-trained craftsmen. The firm’s motto in those days emphasized the company’s longevity: “Our established years in business is your guarantee.”