Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr. (1875-1966), is the American automobile executive, who developed the management precepts of the 20th century corporation as he turned General Motors into one of the world's largest companies with his business acumen, expertise to strategize, and high impact results-driven ethics.
Sloan began his career as a draftsman at the Hyatt Rolling Bearing Company, a New Jersey-based steel manufacturing company. He lunged into the automotive field when he refocused the company’s struggling product line to the manufacture of steel roller bearings for the burgeoning automobile industry.
While Olds Motor Company was Sloan's first customer, Ford Motor Company became the largest. At its height, Hyatt profits ran as high as $4 million annually. William C. Durant, the energetic and impassioned architect of GM, bought Sloan's firm and merged it as part of the United Motors Corporation, with Sloan as president. In 1918, Sloan became Vice-President of GM, then President (1923), and finally Chairman of the Board (1937).
During his early association with GM, the company held a 12 percent share of the market. By 1956, GM’s market share had leapt to 52 percent. Sloan accomplished this by innovations such as four-wheel drive, crankcase ventilation, knee-action brakes-- and more importantly--, by adopting the staff principle of management.
He centralized administration and decentralized production and put each product in its own division and eliminated competition within the company. With Sloan at the helm, GM became famous for managing diverse operations with financial statistics such as return on investment.
By the time of his death in 1966, Sloan’s philanthropic contribution and gifts totaled over $305 million. Major recipients were the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Additional programs and fellows bearing his name and benefiting from his benevolent grants include Cornell University, Stanford University as well as universities abroad.