William Crapo Durant, 1861-1947
. An American
. He was originally a maker of horseless carriage
s, the family business
, but he got into the automobile
industry via his purchase of fledgling Buick
Motors in 1904. Durant then embarked on a concept of a conglomerate
tying together various companies into a larger entity: General Motors
; he brought together various companies, including Oakland, Oldsmobile
, and Cadillac. Ford Motor Company
was almost purchased and made part of GM
Financial problems led to Durant's ouster around 1910. The company's reorganization brought about a leaner GM, consolidated around fewer brand names: Oakland (now Pontiac), Cadillac, Buick, Olds, and GMC Truck. Durant's return to the auto industry was via a new car, designed by race-car driver Gaston Chevrolet; success led to another attempt at controlling GM, also a success: Durant gained a controlling interest in 1916, and Chevy became part of GM, during which time he added Delco (the former Dayton Engineering Laboratories), and Fisher Body (famous for the phrase "Body by Fisher", long after being swallowed up into GM).
Later financial troubles, in the 1920s, led to his last ouster, but GM had become a serious, and permanent, rival to Ford. Durant's next venture, Durant Motors, was not a success; the auto industry had become mature enough that new upstarts had less of a chance of gaining a foothold. I don't see any of you driving Durants these days.