William Durant
Beginning his career as a carriage and wagon manufacturer, Durant made the switch to automobile manufacturing in 1904 by reorganizing a failing Buick Motors. He believed that the key to success in the automobile industry was creating an organization that made a wide variety of models and controlled its own sources of parts. In order to realize this vision, he created General Motors through a merger of Buick, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Oakland (later Pontiac) and numerous parts manufacturers. After losing active control of GM in 1910, Durant regained control of GM by 1916 and ambitiously expanded the company.