Harlow H. Curtice

Inducted 1971

As General Manager of Buick, increased sales nearly 1,000 percent in less than 10 years

Served as President of General Motors from 1953 to 1958, during which time GM became the first industrial corporation to make $1 billion in profits

Harlow Curtice had a reputation for working harder than anyone who worked for him. Growing up in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, Curtice helped his family by keeping the books for his father’s fruit business. Discovering a talent for numbers, Curtice studied accounting at Ferris Institute before accepting employment at General Motor’s AC Spark Plug division. By age 21, he was AC’s Comptroller and the youngest major executive in the automotive industry. Just six years later, in 1929, he was AC’s President. Curtice increased AC’s product range — and sales — so extensively that the division’s employment figures actually rose during the Great Depression. Curtice transferred to Buick as General Manager in 1933 and began an expansion that carried Buick sales to record heights. Under Curtice’s leadership, the Buick line was redesigned to appeal to a wider range of buyers, and Buick production increased from 40,000 in 1933 to 377,000 for the 1941 model year. Known for being at his desk for long hours every day, Curtice attributed his success to his own policy: “Do it the hard way. Do it better than it needs to be done.”

Expand to
read more

Class of 1971

Sign up for our mailing list