Written by Phineas Upham
General Motors is more than a century old, but it remains one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. The company is primarily focused on the industry of automotive transportation, and concentrates heavily on engineering improvements that make automotive manufacture possible. It’s headquartered in Flint, Michigan and employs over 200,000 people across the world as of 2012.
William C. Durant founded the company in 1908 as a holding company. Its first holding was the Buick motor company, but it began a period of rapid acquisitions. Some of these buyouts included Oldsmobile, Cadillac and a company called Oakland (later changed to “Pontiac.”).
Durant already owned a carriage company, which was building in excess of 100,000 carriages yearly to meet demand from its factories in Michigan and Canada. Durant also held several Ford dealerships. The acquisition of Rapid Motor Vehicle Company was the predecessor for the GMC truck line we have today.
The 1930s saw GM branch out into aircraft design and manufacture. It bought Fokker Aircraft, then took controlling interest in North American Aviation through a stock exchange deal. Although, GM dropped its interests in aircraft manufacturing by 1948, when sales were tanking post World War II. The engines built by GM also made appearances in submarines and other sea craft.
After World War II, GM was one of the highest grossing companies in the US. It never held the title for long, but it was briefly the largest employer in the world in 1955. Only Soviet state-held companies could rival GMs sheer power of production for its time.