William C. Durant founded General Motors, one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers, on this day in 1908. General Motors was established as a holding company, initially holding only automobile manufacturer Buick Motor Company, but rapidly acquiring more than 20 other companies, including Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Oakland (later becoming known as Pontiac).
A magnetic industrialist with a boundless appetite for new business ventures, Durant had become a lead manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles in Flint, Michigan, before entering the automobile industry.
In 1886, he founded the Flint Road Cart Company, transforming it from a $2,000 startup into a $2 million business venture. Investors were impressed by his success and asked him in 1904 to take charge of the then failing Buick Motor Company.
His effortless charm and Midas touch led to another business success story with Buick Motors. By 1908, Buick became America’s largest automobile manufacturer.
With a wide scope to his vision, Durant acquired not just car manufacturers under the GM name but also parts and accessory makers, thereby establishing a profitable relationship with the customer throughout the life of the vehicle.