PIERRE S. DU PONT Biography - Bussiness people and enterpreneurs


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Born: 1/15/1870                                                                 
Birthplace: near Wilmington, Del.                                               
Died: 4/5/1954                                                                 
Tall and with a keen insight tempered by natural reticence, Pierre S. du Pont   
was the son of Lammot du Pont and great-grandson of E.I. du Pont, the company's 
founder. He graduated from M.I.T. with a chemistry degree in 1890 and became an 
assistant superintendent at Brandywine Mills. Two years later, Pierre and cousin
Francis G. du Pont developed and patented the first American-made smokeless     
powder at the Carney's Point plant in New Jersey.                               
Pierre had spent much of the 1890s working with the management of the Johnson   
Company, a steel firm partly owned by DuPont. The company's president, Arthur   
Moxham, trained him in cost accounting and financial management, and in 1899,   
frustrated with the conservative nature of DuPont's management, Pierre resigned 
to take over the steel firm.                                                   
When DuPont was put up for sale following president Eugene du Pont's death in   
1902, Pierre purchased it along with his cousins, Alfred I. du Pont and T.     
Coleman du Pont. The three immediately set about bringing a host of other       
smaller powder firms under the DuPont wing. Pierre served as treasurer,         
executive vice-president, and acting president during the absence of the ailing 
Coleman du Pont until 1914, and finally president from 1915 until 1919.         
As chief of financial operations, Pierre du Pont oversaw the restructuring of   
the company along modern corporate lines. He created a centralized hierarchical 
management structure, developed sophisticated accounting and market forecasting 
techniques, and pushed for diversification and increasing emphasis on research 
and development. He also introduced the principle of return on investment, a key
modern management technique. From 1902 to 1914, Pierre kept a firm rein on the 
company's growth, but with the onset of World War I he guided DuPont through a 
period of breakneck expansion financed by advance payments on Allied munitions 
Pierre invested in General Motors and DuPont eventually owned 37 percent of the 
automaker. When General Motors faced bankruptcy in 1920, Pierre left DuPont to 
take over the automaker. Working with Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., Pierre created a   
decentralized management structure to cope effectively with the company's widely
varying products and markets, an approach adopted at DuPont just a year later. 
By the time he retired from the Board of Directors in 1928, GM was the largest 
corporation in the world.                                                       
Pierre du Pont served as chairman of DuPont's board of directors until 1940. In 
retirement he demonstrated continued concern for the public welfare, opening his
carefully cultivated estate, Longwood Gardens, to the public. Pierre also served
on the Delaware State Board of Education, helping finance school construction   
and pushing for higher public education standards.