How Corporations and Governments Addicted the World to Oil and Derailed the Alternatives – CSPAN

Frederic Latta Smith (February 6, 1870 – August 6, 1954) was a pioneer of the automobile business. He was one of the founders of the Olds Motor Works in 1899 and of General Motors Corporation in 1908. He was also the president of the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers in its early years. In 1892, Smith became employed as an agent for land interests in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As of 1897, he maintained his office at 1013 Woodward Avenue in Detroit. In August 1897, Ransom E. Olds, founded the Olds Motor Vehicle Company in Lansing, Michigan. In 1899, Smith was one of the founders of the new Olds Motor Works.[2] Smith together with his father and Henry Russel provided the financial backing for the new venture,[3] which was moved from Lansing to Detroit. Smith’s father became the company’s president, with Ransom Olds as general manager and Frederic Smith as secretary and treasurer. In 1901, the Olds Motor Works released the Curved Dash Oldsmobile. It was this car, rather than Henry Ford’s Model T, that was the first mass-produced, low-priced American motor vehicle.[4] In 1901, a fire destroyed the company’s factory, and a new factory was quickly built to replace it. In 1902, Frederic Smith took charge of the newly built Olds Motor Works factory. He gave responsibility for sales to Roy Chapin, another promising young automotive pioneer from Lansing. Chapin led the way in developing a network of sales franchises for Olds around the country. At one point, Chapin’s mother wrote to Frederic Smith and complained that her son had been given too many responsibilities for too little pay. Smith responded by telling Mrs. Chapin that her son was “the brightest and most promising of all the young managers at Olds.”[5]

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