James J

Wednesday 7th May 1952

James J. Nance resigned form his position at Hotpoint to become the president and general manager of the Packard Motor Company. Nance would direct Packard successfully for two years. Under his direction, the small Detroit-based manufacturing firm tightened its books and invested in technological upgrades essential for postwar competition. However, even successful small firms like Packard were struggling to compete with the Big Three in the massive postwar market. Consequently, in 1954 Packard agreed to merge with the much larger Studebaker Corporation. Together, Packard-Studebaker comprised the fourth largest car manufacturing company in the country. Paul Hoffman, Studebaker’s president, believed that Packard would bolster floundering Studebaker by supplying it with well-respected cars in the profitable high-price range where Studebaker struggled most. He also believed that the young and aggressive Nance could help turn his company around. The merger was a complicated one, however, as Studebaker laborers blocked the process, unwilling to renegotiate their labor contracts. Eventually, though, the deal went through in October of 1954. Hoffman named Nance president of the new company. Nance immediately set to work implementing the same policies he’d implemented at Packard. He reversed Hoffman’s existing policies regarding car design and labor relations, and he generally ignored the input of his new partners. The result was predictable: the changes failed to reverse Studebaker-Packard’s fortune. Nance blamed Hoffman and the rest of the Studebaker executives. In 1956, the whole kit and kaboodle was sold again to the Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Company.

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