Pierre S. Dupont This essay was assigned for analysis of the life and contributions of influential leaders to business and leadership thought.

Essay by phfrugeUniversity, Master'sA+, March 2004

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Pierre S. DuPont was born near Wilmington, Delaware in 1870. Twenty years later, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a chemistry degree and began working in the DuPont family business. He became an assistant superintendent at Brandywine Mills, and two years later, Pierre and his cousin Francis G. DuPont developed and patented the first American-made smokeless gunpowder at the Carney's Point plant in New Jersey. During the 1890's, Pierre worked at the Johnson Company, which was a steel firm partly owned by the DuPont family. Here he learned a great deal about cost accounting and financial management from the company's president, Arthur Moxham. He left briefly to join his cousin Coleman DuPont in his street railway business in 1899, but he was soon back in the family business when the patriarch of the family, Eugene DuPont, died in 1902. On the firm's 100th anniversary, it was about to go out of business and had no successor for president.

Several DuPonts wanted to sell the company off, but Alfred, the youngest son would not hear of it. He joined with two of his cousins, Coleman and Pierre and bought the company in one of the first modern large scale leveraged buyouts for $12 million.

The company was poorly run at the time, but the three partners managed to keep the company in business. Pierre oversaw the restructuring of the DuPont Company as chief of financial operations. He created a centralized hierarchical management structure, developed complex accounting and market forecasting techniques, and pushed for diversification and emphasis on R&D. During this time he introduced the principle of return on investment, return on assets and return on equity as methods for determining the financial stability of a company, and when World War 1 started, he began a period of...