Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, a Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History

Billy, Alfred, and General Motors: The Story of Two Unique Men, a Legendary Company, and a Remarkable Time in American History

by William Pelfrey
     
 

ISBN-10: 0814408699

ISBN-13: 9780814408698

Pub. Date: 03/27/2006

Publisher: AMACOM Books

"You couldn’t find two more different men. Billy Durant was the consummate salesman, a brilliant wheeler-dealer with grand plans, unflappable energy, and a fondness for the high life. Alfred Sloan was the intellectual, an expert in business strategy and management, master of all things organizational. Together, this odd couple built perhaps the most

Overview

"You couldn’t find two more different men. Billy Durant was the consummate salesman, a brilliant wheeler-dealer with grand plans, unflappable energy, and a fondness for the high life. Alfred Sloan was the intellectual, an expert in business strategy and management, master of all things organizational. Together, this odd couple built perhaps the most successful enterprise in U.S. history, General Motors, and with it an industry that has come to define modern life throughout the world. Their story is full of timeless lessons, cautionary tales, and inspiration for business leaders and history buffs alike.

Billy, Alfred, and General Motors is the tale not just of the two extraordinary men of its title but also of the formative decades of twentieth-century America, through two world wars and sea changes in business, industry, politics, and culture. The book includes vivid, warts-and-all portraits of the legends of the golden age of the automobile, from “Crazy” Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, and Charles Nash to the brilliant but uncredited David Dunbar Buick and Cadillac founder Henry Leland.

The impact of Durant and Sloan on their contemporaries and their industry is matched only by the powerful legacy of their improbable and incredible partnership. Characters, events, and context — all are brought skillfully and passionately to life in this meticulously researched and supremely readable book."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780814408698
Publisher:
AMACOM Books
Publication date:
03/27/2006
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
17 Years

Table of Contents

"Acknowledgments xi

A Note on Sources and Permissions xiii

Introduction: What They Wrought xv

1

1920: The Fateful Year 1

America and the General on a Roll Losing a Man Named Chrysler The Eve of Showdown

2

A Precocious Dropout Forges His First Empire 17

A Hands-On Education Sins of the Fathers Just a Short Ride Across Town Selling Billy Durant, Then Selling the Product A Bitter Lesson in Production Control From Start-Up to Industry Leader

3

A Quiet Student Becomes a First-Class Supplier 37

Staying on Message A Most Serious Young Man Early Risk and Turnaround Seeing a New Market

4

A New Machine Creates a New Order 51

An Ancient Idea Slowly Takes Hold Enter Ransom Olds Leland, Master of Precision Henry Ford and His Demons Leland Is in, Cadillac Is Born Alfred Meets Henry . . . and Henry Rises Again

5

Restless in Flint, Antsy in New York 77

The Good Life in Flint Spared the Strife . . . for the Time Being A Different Routine for Billy's Executive Team A Hardy Man Takes the Plunge Without Billy Billy Takes a Sabbatical David Buick Takes His Shot Enter the Briscoe Boys and Whiting of Flint

6

The Dropout's Next Big Thing 93

Making It a Go Another Industry Precedent, and an Early Jab from Alfred Billy Finds a New Flame Buick Triumphant No Legacy for David A Shakeout on the Horizon

7

Birth of a General 109

A Hyatt Customer Prepares to Shift into High Gear Henry Ford's Different Product Strategy Billy Takes Another Call Billy Brings the Big Four Together . . . Henry Ford Kills Morgan's Big Deal Billy Cuts His Own Deal No Headlines for Billy's Newborn

8

Shooting for the Stars 129

Putting the House of Olds in Order by Cutting the Baby in Quarters Cadillac Makes Itself the World Standard . . . Despite Slumping Sales Wooing the Lelands One More Run at Henry Ford The Great Race . . . and More Great Opportunities A Whirling Dervish Unconstrained

9

Down but Hardly Out 147

Billy Says Goodbye . . . for Now A Case of Conspiracy or Prudence? Henry Pulls Away . . . and Brings America with Him Heady but Precarious Days for Sloan the Supplier The Bankers Turn to James Storrow, Brahmin Billy Champions a Former Protégé Every Executive Recruiter's Dream Candidate: Walter Chrysler The Bankers' Bottom Line Enter Kettering with His Self-Starter The Bankers' Philosophy vs. Henry Ford's

10

Beating the Odds with Chevrolet 169

Taking on the Model T . . . Slowly A Different Way to Build Brand Awareness and Community Relations Finally, the Long-Awaited Hit Henry Again Changes the Game The Guardian from Delaware and His Right Hand

11

A Boardroom Coup Like None Before or Since 187

The Mother of All Proxy Battles Another Clash of Philosophies: Pierre vs. Billy on Corporate Governance Cementing the Base: Step One, Locking in Chrysler Step Two, Luring Alfred into the Fold Alfred Moves Up with Billy

12

The Founder's Grip Slips Again 205

Henry Ford's Plunge into Pacifism, Politics, and Prejudice Billy Durant vs. the Lelands Good Times on the New Jersey Shore, but Not on Wall Street The Wizard Gambles Again . . . and Dilutes His Power

13

A Last Good-Bye to the Baby 221

Prelude to the Crisis General Motors' Response vs. Ford Motor's The Founder Has His Own Doubts as His Leadership Team Remains Mute Done in by the Street . . . Again Billy Does Right by His Baby The End of an Era

14

Alfred Pulls the Ranks Together 237

Pierre Comes Out from Behind the Curtain Kettering's Copper-Cooled Engine From Standoff to Near Meltdown Defying the Consultants to Save Chevrolet Decentralized Operations with Coordinated Control Henry Ford Misses a Sea Change in the Market A Car for Every Purse and Purpose

15

From Transformation to Domination 253

A New Paradigm for Product Design The Annual Model Change Beyond the United States Nonautomotive Forays and Legacies Financial (and Other) Controls Attracting, Developing, and Holding the Best Talent at All Levels Unrest in the Ranks Politicians and Executives Don't Mix The Finest Hour: General Motors Goes to War for America The Sloan Philosophy and Legacy of Winning

Epilogue: What's Good for General Motors . . . 273

Chronology of Key Events 281

Notes 285

Selected Bibliography 297

Index 303

About the Author 315"

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