Railroads to Manufacturing

Railroads to Manufacturing

The three years, 1908-1911, were fast paced and exciting for the 33 year-old Walter P. Chrysler. Already head machinist at the Chicago Great Western system he was beginning to look at opportunities that offered more upward mobility. Contacting his old friend and president of ALCO (American Locomotive Company), Waldo H. Marshall, he took a pay cut to become general foreman of their Allegheny shops in Pittsburg. He was banking on his own talent and in a year and a half he was works manager and turning their locomotive manufacturing plant into a success story of profitability—the first time in three years.  He describes this experience in his autobiography, "The fun I had experienced in making things as a boy was magnified a hundredfold when I began making things as a man. There is in manufacturing a creative joy that only poets are supposed to know. Some day I'd like to show a poet how it feels to design and build a railroad locomotive."

Opportunity knocked again when he was offered his first job in the auto industry by James J. Storrow, director of ALCO and General Motors Company.  Accepting yet another pay cut, Walter P. Chrysler took on the job as works manager at the giant Buick Plant in Flint, Michigan. ALCO graciously awarded him a trophy in recognition of his achievements even after he turned down their $12,000 counter-offer—double the Buick salary—to keep their stellar manager. To Walter P. Chrysler, pay cuts were tactical investments in his own talents. Buick went on to experience extraordinary success with the "Chrysler touch."

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