Founder of Chrysler Corporation, Walter Chrysler was an iconic automobile manufacturer, who led Chrysler Corporation to being one of America’s Big Three automakers competing with the biggest giants, such as, General Motors and Ford. With a passion for machinery, the man single-handedly transformed the
face of the American automobile industry, leading its way towards a bright future.
Born to a railroad engineer, he worked his way up in the railroad industry. After working for a few years for different railroads, he gained mastery in plant efficiency and became an expert in the field. At the age of 36, he joined the automobile business on the persuasion of Charles Nash, who encouraged him to join General Motors as the manager of the Buick plant in Flint. Chrysler completely revolutionised Buick’s manufacturing system, introduced the assembly-line processes pioneered by Henry Ford and more than tripled its production.
His achievements were recognised by William Durant, Founder of General Motors, who made him the President of Buick in 1916. Under Chrysler’s leadership, Buick rose to be the strongest unit of General Motors and the most successful automobile brand of the country.
Apart from completely transforming the automobile set-up, Chrysler was also a phenomenal cost-cutter, who believed that keeping the company lean was the secret to building affordable cars. A man of unconventional and out-of-the-box thinking, he once claimed, “Whenever there is a hard job to be done, I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.”
After resigning from Buick, he began the direction of Willys-Overland Company and Maxwell Motor Company, which was drowned in debt. His introduction of Chrysler Six turned the company from a debt-ridden venture into a profit-earning one. This led to the brand being reorganised into Chrysler Corporation.
Henceforth, some of his major business masterstrokes included purchasing Dodge Bro Inc and introducing the first Plymouth model in 1928, which competed with the Fords and Chevrolets. The same year was also the peak of his career with him being awarded Time’s Man of the Year Award as Chrysler Corporation leaped its way to the top tier of American automakers. Sharing his insights on success, he firmly believed, “The real secret of success is enthusiasm.”
He retired as the President of his company and stayed Chairman of Board until his death. Being such a powerhouse who led from the front, his life was compiled in a book called Life of an American Workman, which serves as a reminder of this remarkable figure, who continues to inspire entrepreneurs all over the world.