Last week the Securities & Exchange Commission trampled heavily on a most acute business bunion by publishing a list of high-salaried men of business. The salaries had been filed with the request that they be considered confidential, but SEC rated them as matters of public interest and therefore not to be concealed. Date of publication coincided with the Congress of American Industry (see p. 67) meeting in Manhattan; featured firm was General Motors whose President Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr. was keynoter of the industrialists' session. Top salaries at Bethlehem Steel, Standard Oil of New Jersey, Corn Products. 86 other corporations were also dragged out for public view.
General Motors salaries of more than $20,000 a year totaled nearly $3,000,000, equal to about if on $3 of 1935 sales. Among the highest paid higher-ups were:
Signius Wilkelm Paul (William) Knitdsen who had $30 when he reached the U. S. from Denmark in 1900. Mr. Knudsen spoke no English, picked up the language by listening to his landlady's children. He got a job with the John R. Keim mills in Buffalo, sold automobile parts to Henry Ford, went to work for Ford Motor Co. when Mr. Ford bought out John R. Keim, became production manager at the Highland Park plant. In 1921 he left Mr. Ford, in 1922 turned up at Chevrolet, became Chevrolet's president two years later. So well did he apply his Ford training to Chevrolet production that in 1927 more than a million Chevrolets were turned out and Mr. Ford had to scrap Model T. Since October 1933 Mr. Knudsen has been General Motors executive vice president, in charge of all automotive production and acting as contact man between General Motors in Michigan and General Motors in Manhattan. He says that he does not like men to ask him for a raise because he prides himself on raising them first. Last year General Motors paid him $211,128.
Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., whose father died in 1932 leaving $2,297,000, went from M. I. T. to Hyatt Roller Bearing Co., in which the Senior Sloan had a large interest. His first job had to do with manufacturing billiard balls, then an important Hyatt product. With the development of automobile roller bearings which supplanted billiard balls, the small, struggling Hyatt became large & rich. In 1916 Hyatt was taken over by William Crapo Durant, whose General Motors dream included motorcar accessories as well as motorcars. In 1920 Mr. Durant was out of General Motors, the du Ponts were in, and Mr. Sloan was operating vice president. In 1923 he succeeded Pierre du Pont as Motors' president.
Tall, gaunt, lanky, with long, bony hands, Mr. Sloan wears extremely high collars, works all hours of the day & night, has well succeeded in his major task of preserving harmony in the group of high-powered individualists who manufacture General Motors units. A young executive once prefaced a suggestion about improving some item of G. M.'s procedure with an apologetic statement that "I suppose you will bawl me out for this." "Why," soothed Mr. Sloan, "did you ever hear of me bawling anybody out?" Last year Mr. Sloan's pay came to $201,743.