The reason why you may be driving a Ford automobile, but have never driven a Sloan, is that Henry chose to name his car after himself, but Al chose to name his car the Pontiac.

I am often asked the question of why so many famous institutions are named after me, including the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute.

The reason is that I have a famous relative, or at least my father and grandfather believed that he was our relative, namely Alfred P. Sloan.

Alfred P. Sloan was without question one of the greatest industrialists in history. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut on May 23, 1875. In 1892, at the age of 17, he graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering as the youngest member of his graduating class.

After graduation, he started off as a draftsman in a small machine shop in New Jersey. At his suggestion, the machine shop started making ball bearings. By age 24, he was made the president of that company.

In 1916, his company merged with United Motors Corporation, and Al became the president of that company, too.

In 1918, United Motors Corporation merged with a parts and accessories firm to form General Motors Corporation, and went into the business of making cars, and not just the ball bearings used in those cars.

Al was first made Vice-President of the newly formed General Motors Corporation. Later, he became President and then Chairman of the Board.

When Al got into the business of making cars, there were more than 100 other manufacturers of cars. Al's cars were better. Almost all of the other companies eventually folded.

From 1918 until 1924, Al's company went from a tiny manufacturing company of ball bearings, parts and accessories to becoming the largest manufacturing company in the entire world.

The growth of General Motors Corporation in surpassing Ford and other much bigger rivals is probably the most rapid successful expansion of any company in world history.

This also helped Al, because he became one of the world's richest men in the process.

Al retired as Chairman of General Motors Corporation in 1956, at age 81. He devoted the remainder of his life to trying to figure out how to give away his money. Unfortunately, he never gave me (his long lost nephew) any.

He died in 1966.

I am often asked whether I am his relative. I believe that I am, on the basis of the fact that we are both Scotch-Irish Protestant from the same area of Northern Ireland, plus we both have the same last name. In addition, we are both good in math.

However, if we are related, the relationship goes back to Ireland, because my branch of the Sloan family had arrived in America before 1850 and his came around 20 years later.

If you want to get some money from Sloan (he had a billion, I don't have any), here is where to go: The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Sam Sloan

P.S. The secret to Al's success was that he did not try to do everything himself. He knew how to delegate authority. He set up a corporate structure which, while unusual, is still in use at General Motors Corporation to this day.

Here is a link: More About Alfred P. Sloan.

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