Alfred P

Monday 2nd April 1956

Alfred P. Sloan stepped down after 19 years as chairman of General Motors (GM), with Albert Bradley elected as his successor. Sloan is recognized as the creator of the GM Corporation as it exists today. Brought on by William Durant by way of the purchase of the Hyatt Roller Bearing Corporation, Sloan worked his way into the position of vice president of GM. At that time, the company was a poorly planned and loosely configured extension of William Durant’s vision. Sloan, with Durant’s approval if not his undivided attention, set about centralising GM. His first major step was to build a new corporate headquarters on the outskirts of Detroit. Methodical and calculating, Sloan was the model for the late twentieth century corporate leader in that he did not allow his ego, or his genius, to interfere with his shareholders’ interests. When Durant was bought out of GM in 1920 by the DuPont family, Pierre DuPont, at the urging of Sloan, took his place as the company’s head. The recession of the early 20s had damaged GM stock, and Sloan believed that DuPont’s name at the head of the company would help to restore its investors’ confidence. DuPont was not interested in running the company, and so the Sloan Era of General Motors began. Alfred Sloan reorganized the company and trimmed its financial sails, and before long GM was making headway. Gone were the days of Durant’s mercurial and reckless expansionist policies. Sloan focused on consolidation and profit margin. He would effectively rule GM with an invisible hand for over three decades.

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