Walter Percy Chrysler (April 2, 1875 – August 18, 1940) was an American automotive industry executive and founder of the Chrysler Corporation.
Chrysler was born in Wamego, Kansas, the son of Anna Maria (née Breymann) and Henry Chrysler. He grew up in Ellis, Kansas. A Freemason, Chrysler began his career as a machinist and railroad mechanic. He took correspondence courses from International Correspondence Schools in Scranton, Pennsylvania, earning a mechanical degree from the correspondence program.
Industrialist. He was the first President and Founder of the Chrysler Corporation. Walter Chrysler was born in Wamego, Kansas, and shortly afterwards, his family moved to Oelwein, Iowa. His automotive career began when the American Locomotive Company (ALCO) decided to expand into making automobiles. Chrysler's interest in automobiles had begun in 1908, when he bought his first car. When ALCO's sales began to slide after just two years in the car-making business, Chrysler saw the handwriting on the wall, and in 1911, he quit ALCO to become the factory manager of the Buick Motor Company; just two years later, ALCO quit the automobile business altogether. In 1916, he became President of the Buick Motor Company, but resigned in 1919, to take over as Vice-President of the Willys-Overland Motor Company in Toledo, Ohio. At that time, his salary was $1 million a year, a record salary for that time. Shortly afterwards, Chrysler attempted to oust President John Willys in a takeover bid that backfired when the shareholders refused to support him. Chrysler left the company in 1921 after taking controlling interest in the Maxwell Motor Company. Four years later, he absorbed Maxwell into his fledging Chrysler Corporation, never looking back. In addition to Chrysler automobiles, the company also created the Plymouth and DeSoto automobiles, and in 1928, purchased the Dodge Corporation. He financed the construction of what was then the tallest building in the world, the Chrysler Building, in New York City, soon to be bested by the Empire State Building, and earning the 1928 title of Time Magazine's Man of the Year. Chrysler's autobiography was titled "The Life of an American Workman." Chrysler was President of the company from 1925 to 1935, and continued to serve as Chairman of the Board from 1935 until his death in 1940.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
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