Charles Williams Nash

Similar to the background of many great American automotive pioneers, Charles Williams Nash was born in a small farming family in Cortland, Illinois in 1864. His parents separated when he was six years old, forcing the young boy to work hard for bread early on.

Charles took simple jobs such as indentured servant or a shepherd in order to survive. His luck changed at the age of twenty, when he married Jessie Halleck. They met on a farm owned by her father and the couple eventually decided to build their life in Flint, Michigan.

It was the 1890s, the dawn of the emerging automobile industry. Being trustworthy and talented, Nash wanted to build his career in the automotive sector. An opportunity presented itself when William Crapo Durant needed someone to supervise his Durant-Dort Carriage Company.

During his years of working for Durant, Nash tested early electric cars and tried to increase the sales volume of this new technology. Together with David Dunbar Buick and William Durant, he founded the Buick Motor Company.

As his reputation for managerial abilities grow, his career followed suit. In 1908 Charles Nash became Buick's president and general manager, being promoted two years later to the position of the general manager of even larger General Motors.

In those days General Motors was on the brink of bankruptcy and needed changes fast. As Durant lost control of his company, Charles Nash methods proved effective. By 1914, profits increased several time to over $12 million. Still, it was not the end of their story, since shareholders didn't support Nash in his hesitation to pay out dividends.

Eventually, William Durant regained control of General Motors in 1916. Charles Williams Nash was fired and decided never to work for someone again. Using his hefty savings, he bought the Jeffery Motor Company based in Kenosha, Wisconsin and renamed it Nash Motors in 1917. The company sold mostly cars and trucks, with the Nash Model 671 leading the way.

Charles had a great understanding of America's middle class desire for small and cheap vehicles. A targeted marketing approach was novelty in those days. Many car manufacturers didn't follow the market changes, but Nash Motors always carefully balanced production schedule and material orders. Great deal of credit goes to engineer Nils Erik Wahlberg, who helped develop the early models.

His innovations such as modern ventilation system changed the public notions of regular car heating and cooling process. During the 1920s, Charles Nash introduced the Ajax car brand. It was an attempt to give the customer more than he has paid for. People trusted the car with very decent performance, but absolutely loved the prices. In 1924 Nash bought LaFayette Motors of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in order to expand production.

Most of these actions were included the company development process in an attempt to capture the market. Charles Williams Nash wanted George W. Mason to succeed him as the head of Nash Motors. Mason wanted his previous employer Kelvinator Corporation to be a part of his new job.

Even though it was a high end refrigerators and kitchen appliances manufacturer, Charles Nash bought it in 1937 and the new company became Nash Kelvinator Corporation. The car production continued under the Nash name until 1954 when the company merged with Hudson Motor Car Company and formed American Motors Corporation. Charles Williams Nash certainly remains one of the greatest managers in the American automotive history.

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