Alfred P. Sloan

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Alfred Pritchard Sloan, Jr. (May 23, 1875 – February 17, 1966) was a long-time president and chairman of General Motors.[1]



Sloan was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied electrical engineering and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1895. While attending MIT he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

He became president and owner of Hyatt Roller Bearing, a company that made roller and ball bearings, in 1899. For a brief period of time at the beginning of the 20th century, Ford Motor Company sourced bearings from Hyatt. In 1916 his company merged with United Motors Company which eventually became part of General Motors Corporation. He became Vice-President, then President (1923), and finally Chairman of the Board (1937) of GM. In 1934, he established the philanthropic, nonprofit Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. GM under Sloan became famous for managing diverse operations with financial statistics such as return on investment; these measures were introduced to GM by Donaldson Brown, a protege of GM vice-president John J. Raskob who was in turn the protege of Pierre du Pont—the DuPont corporation owned 43% of GM.

Sloan is credited with establishing annual styling changes, from which came the concept of planned obsolescence. He also established a pricing structure in which (from lowest to highest priced) Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Cadillac—referred to as the ladder of success—did not compete with each other, and buyers could be kept in the GM "family" as their buying power and preferences changed as they aged. These concepts, along with Ford's resistance to the change in the 1920s, propelled GM to industry sales leadership by the early 1930s, a position it retained for over 70 years. Under Sloan's direction, GM became the largest and most successful and profitable industrial enterprise the world had ever known.[peacock term]

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