Charitable CEO who helped establish American Motor Company
George Romney brought a sense of integrity and devotion to the automotive industry. He was born in 1907 in a Mormon colony in Mexico, but his family was forced to flee to the United States when the Mexican Revolution broke out in 1910. The family moved all around the western U. S. chasing economic stability, but the depressions of 20’s and 30’s ruined the family financially. His family’s financial struggles taught Romney lessons he would remember throughout his life.
When Romney was 19, he went to England to serve as a Mormon missionary. Romney’s frequent public preaching helped him develop his gifts of debate and salesmanship, skills he later said meant more to him in furthering his career than any other experience. Romney got his start in the automotive business in 1939 when he moved to Detroit to join the Automobile Manufacturers Association. Romney would act as the chief spokesman for the automobile industry during the Second World War, and successfully persuaded 250 automotive manufacturers and suppliers to voluntarily convert their factories to support war production. Following WWII, he joined Nash-Kelvinator in 1948 and was quickly promoted to Vice President of the company. When Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car Company in 1954 to become American Motors Corporation, Romney was named Chief Executive Officer. Romney was instrumental in developing innovative products like the Nash Rambler, America’s first compact postwar car, which helped AMC establish itself against their cross-town rivals as the nation’s 4th largest automaker. Romney openly mocked the full-size offerings of the Big Three, referring to them as “gas-guzzling dinosaurs.” He became one of the first high-profile auto-executives, and utilized his media publicity to market AMC’s cars.
Romney would step down from AMC in 1962 to pursue a career in politics. He would serve three terms as Michigan’s Governor and later became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Richard M. Nixon. In the years before his death, Romney became the nation’s unofficial spokesperson for volunteerism, and inspired thousands of organizations and individuals to serve their communities without compensation. A consummate businessman and humanitarian, George Romney’s compassion for the common man was unrivaled in the industry.