General Motors Founder William Durant Essay

Length: 3 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Business Type: Essay Paper: #57240622 Related Topics: Automotive, Automotive Industry, Entrepreneur, Winning Is The Only Thing
Excerpt from Essay :


Durant and General Motors

Alex Madsen's book "The Deal Make: How William C. Durant Made General Motors" is a biographic account of Durant's life, documenting his failures as well as his achievements and giving an insight into the dynamic life of this entrepreneur. Durant is best known as the founder of General Motors, but his story is far from normal. The book starts at the end, telling the story of his funeral in Manhattan in 1947 (Madsen, 2001). At his funeral there were many long standing friends and colleagues who are life's he had touched (Madsen, 2001). Durant was remembered as a vibrant and risk taker, impatient and determined.

The book then goes on to look at his life. It is noted that while working at a range of early jobs, including stacking lumber at a mill and as a travelling cigar sales person he demonstrated many of the characteristics which he would be known for; unswerving confidence combined with a soft spoken voice and patience that was convincing to those he spoke to (Madsen, 2001). It was as a sales person he entered into the transportation industry, selling horse-drawn carriages, standing the Flint Road Cart Company in 1886 (Madsen, 2001). This may be argued as one of his earliest major successes, as by 1890 this company, with the gaining of a new partner, had become the Durant-Dort Carriage Company, which would become the world's largest carriage Co. (Madsen, 2001). Ironically, Durant was not initially convinced of the benefits of cars, believing that they were noisy allowed. However, with the increased public interest he saw an opportunity, and moved into the automotive industry,...


General Motors was his triumph and his downfall; initial successes saw him undertake a highly aggressive acquisition strategy, at times acquiring one company every three weeks. The strategy was highly risky, and in 1910 he lost control of General Motors to the Wall Street financiers after becoming overextended, only to regain control in 1915 after founding Chevrolet and utilizing a successor Chevrolet to regain control of General Motors through a share purchase, at this time he worked with Alfred P. Sloan (Madsen, 2001). However, Durant was not hold onto General Motors, is once again he overextended himself, and once again lost a company, moving onto established Durant motors. However, the 1929 collapse of Wall Street limited funding, the company shut down in 1933 (Madsen, 2001). Durant did not give up, although he left automotive industry, and purchase the bowling alley which became bankrupt in under a year.


What do you think the entrepreneur did wrong?

Durant's main failures revolve around his high level of risk taking. It maybe argued that his aggressive approach towards business, and his willingness to take risks, resulted in an overoptimistic view of potential outcomes, that was not always realize. For example, in 1909 he acquired Cartercar for General Motors, a company which was developing a different type of car using a friction drive (Madsen, 2001). Durant's view was this could be very valuable, and saw a future for it, but his investors and finances did not agree. His acquisition policy appears to have been his downfall, as it was this that resulted in his overextension and in 1909 an $8…

Sources Used in Documents:


Madsen, A, (2001), The Deal Maker: How William C. Durant Made General Motors, Wiley

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