September sixteenth 1908 - GM [The making of a mega-company]

in #onthisday5 months ago

A high-school drop out created one of the largest and most globally-recognised companies on this day over a hundred years ago. It cost two thousand dollars to incorporate General Motors, a tiny drop in the financial-ocean of what the company turns over now, however like many great business stories it started with the first step, and a creative thinker.

The high-school drop out was William Durant who made his fortune building horse-drawn carriages, [Durant-Dort Carriage Company], and was company head of the Buick Motor Company at the time of creating General Motors.

The automotive industry was a shambles in the 1900's. Most of the car companies only sold a handful of cars per year and were therefore quick to go out of business - Often before vehicles were delivered to paying customers. Something had to be done. source

An idea formulated in Benjamin Briscoe's mind, an industrialist and owner of car manufacturer Maxwell-Briscoe, to combine the strongest of the car manufactures together with the view of forcing the smaller ones out of business and therefore strengthening the industry. Durant of Buick thought it was a good idea however Henry Ford and Ransom E Olds of REO were not keen on it.

Briscoe and Durant pushed on regardless but eventually disagreed over the way it was to be set up. Durant got his way eventually in that a holding company was formed which meant each individual part of the whole was left alone and intact rather than Briscoe's way of merging them all as one. GM went on tie-together thirty different companies, eleven of which, were car manufacturers like Cadillac, Oldsmobile and Oakland (later becoming Pontiac). The combination also included many supplier-companies.

In 1910/11 Durant was forced out as the corporation's board didn't like the way he was spending money. He was to make a return to the automotive industry by co-founding Chevrolet with a Swiss racing driver. It was a good move for him too as he eventually bought enough GM stock to gain control of the corporation once again - With a little help from Pierre S. du Pont [of the famous du Pont family who made their fortune making gunpowder]. This was in 1916. Unfortunately for Durant he was forced out again in 1920 - Ironically this was orchestrated by Pierre S. du Pont.

Durant went on to attempt various business enterprises including a bowling alley however never again found the business success of the past. He died in March 1947.

GM now manufacture's in over 35 countries, has annual sales of around 10 million vehicles and conducts business in 140 countries. It was ranked as number 10 on the Fortune 500 rankings in 2018 - Not a bad effort considering it all started with one guy and a vision...With no high-school education.

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So many of the world's industries have been defined by high-school dropouts. Perhaps it is because rather than repeat what has been taught, they generate new thought.

I agree - Necessity might force out of the box thinking.

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