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Friday, September 16, 2011

Carriages to Chevrolet

The Durant-Dort Carriage Company, based in Flint, Michigan, had by 1890 become a leading manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles, which by 1900 they ultimately became number one in the world.  Founded in 1886 with $2,000 in start capital was built up to a 2 million dollar business with sales around the world.  William Crapo 'Billy' Durant was not a big fan of cars, thinking they were stinky, loud, and dangerous and wouldn't let his daughter ride in one.  Seeing the public outcry about how there needed to by government regulation of these gas powered horseless carriages, Durant looked for an opportunity to improve the safety of these new machines rather than relying on government intervention.  He purchased Buick, which had only built 37 cars to date, a local car company with little sales and large debts.  He entered Buick into a New York auto show and returned from the show with orders for 1,108 cars!
Billy Durant partnered with McLaughlin of Canada to build Buicks.  Durant went to Detroit and on November 20, 1907 started General Motors of Canada, and September 16, 1908 (Today in History), General Motors Holding Company was started!
It would be later that Durant would bring in Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Pontiac, and eventually Chevrolet!  This was years before the 57' Chevy Classic or the Corvette were even imagined!
I'm sure Durant turned over in his mausoleum at the Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York, when the U.S. Government had to bail out GM from bankruptcy.  The Stock market crash pretty much destroyed Durant's fortune as he never again reclaimed his earlier business successes after the crash.
Why is this important?  Well it relates to today's date, when GM was started in the United States of America.
The Publishing Industry is undergoing changes in the market and could be compared to the carriage business of 1890 through 1900.  One would call turning two thousand dollars capital into a two million dollar industry wildly successful!  But where was the carriage company by 1906, 1926, 1936.  There are still companies today you can buy a carriage from, and you can even buy old ones restored or that have been protected over time.  What is the book market going to look like in 2021, 2031, 2041?  How many giant publishing houses will still be around?
If you mentioned this to Durant in 1887, after his first year in the carriage business, about where his company would go and how it would end up he would have probably laughed in your face.  Yet when the time came he changed with the times, made new contacts, found new products, formed dealerships, and literally built a market for his cars.  Will the Publishers and Literary Agents of today change with the times, find new markets, change their age old model of business which frankly was allowed to rule the scene for a very long time!
If their model of business wasn't broken why is there such a flood of people publishing books NOW!  Because they can, NOW!  Can I get an AMEN!

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