William C. Durant
Birthplace: Boston, Mass.
He quit high school to begin work in his grandfather's Flint, Michigan, lumberyard. By 1885 he had organized the Flint Road Cart Company, which would become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn carriages. When the Buick Motor Car Company was failing in 1904, Durant invested in the firm, eventually expanding it to become General Motors Company (1908). The firm was further expanded through the acquisition of Cadillac and Oldsmobile, and vertically integrated through the purchase of parts suppliers. Financially insolvent, the firm was taken over by a bank in 1910. Undeterred, Durant partnered up with Louis Chevrolet to form Chevrolet Motor Company in 1911 and used the profits from Chevrolet to regain control of GMC. His management once again proved troublesome, however, and he resigned under an agreement with GM president Pierre du Pont in exchange for du Pont's paying off Durant's debts. His last two ventures, Durant Motors and a chain of bowling alleys, were both unsuccessful.Died: 3/18/1947