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1950 Commentary on the State of Willys-Overland Management

• CATEGORIES: Documents, Features, Old News Articles

1958 Photo of Arthur Gaeth: Source

Arthur Gaeth had a career that ranged from being a pre-WWII LDS missionary and tour conductor in what is now the Czech Republic/Slovakia, to reporting on displaced citizens in Europe. In 1946, he reported on the Nuremberg trials. In 1947, he provided more details on his life during a Senate hearing where he encouraged the loosening of travel restrictions in Europe. He subsequently had his own radio broadcast and Washington Correspondent for the Mutual Broadcasting System. In the 1950s he became the “Voice of the Denver Post” and a News Commentator for Denver’s KBTV News.

The reason for the background information on Arthur Gaeth is that In January of 1950 he delivered a scathing review of Willys-Overland’s management, which was printed out in the January 1, 1950, issue of the Arizona Sun. While there’s likely some exaggerations within, it still provides some interesting tidbits, such as Mahoney’s Technical Services, Incorporated, side deal. Also, if the name Empire Securities isn’t familiar to you, I’d suggest reading this 1946 Fortune article.



12 Comments on “1950 Commentary on the State of Willys-Overland Management

  1. Glennstin

    Thanks Dave for this inside look at W/O – 1950 edition. I’ve got to reread my “Cast Iron Charlie” book to remember what that author saw. That’s a different picture than I had of this man previously.

  2. Barney Goodwin

    Is this what ended up in testimony before congress that I remember? Had to do with Kaiser purchasing WO I believe.

  3. SE Pennsylvania Steve

    Wow, this article makes Sorenson look like a nasty guy. I guess he would have agreed with Leo Durocher when he said “Nice guys finish last.”

  4. David Eilers Post author

    Again, I should highlight that perhaps Arthur had an ‘axe to grind’ against W-O or it’s management, so this may not be a fair look at the company’s execs, but it certainly makes me want to poke around a little more closely to either confirm or debunk the claims.

  5. Bill Norris

    Sorenson could be a nasty guy for sure. He did lead by intimidation. But, that was the Ford way back then. Just look at Harry Bennett, Mead Bricker, or ol Henry himself for that matter.

    I find the story about squeezing that family out of their two acres a bit hard to believe. As tough as Sorenson was, he made sure those that worked on his farms had enough food during the Great Depression.

    More useless knowledge, Henry Ford appointed Soreson in charge of 6 engineers to adapt the Ferguson hydraulic lift to the Ford 9N tractor.


  6. Colin Peabody

    Very interesting. I understand Henry Ford became a tyrant in his later years and some of his executives’ careers ended abruptly at the hands of Bennett.

  7. Glennstin

    Do the math here. CS was 69 years old in 1950, just out and about from 40 years under the thumb of the old tyrant, Henry I. Henry II had sent him packing in 1944, making room for the new regime WIZ KIDS. Now he’s lacking “CASH FLO” in a lavish life style and W/O needs his expertise as they change over from Wartime to Civilian production. This is a “Cush” job where he can slide along without a lot of interference from the old W/O gang held over from bankruptcy days of the 30’s. All he has to do is make headlines once in a while, show up at the office occasionally, and his name on the Board speaks for itself. His presence along with product source knowledge must have been a huge asset in pushing the CJ2A into reality, and then developing new inventory in the Post WWII era. By 1950 he has his feet planted solidly, enjoying life at the farm in Michigan as well as Florida encounters. If those numbers in the article are real, life in “Retirement” must have been fairly easy. Willys stock options made daily worries a thing of the past. We can easily see where Mr. Gaeth, the author above, might have had a bias to slant his remarks. So far I haven’t found much info written about Charlie’s days at W/O. Most of the headlines came from his Ford Days. Articles like this one sure give us a peek at his later years. Now, we’ll have to dig for some more. Sounds like a great DISPATCHER article Bill.

  8. Bill Norris


    I’ve spent alot of time researching Sorenson. You are correct, most of his highlights are his years at Ford. His personal papers are all in the Benson Ford Research Center from his first days at Ford, and abruptly end when he leaves. I have not been able to track down his personal papers after that point.

    He led a fascinating life starting with his move to Detroit. He lived in Mrs Neilberg’s boarding house which was down the street from the first Oldsmobile factory. A fellow boarder was Roy Chapin Sr, a test driver for Oldsmobile. His son of course, was instrumental in the purchase of Jeep from Kaiser.

    I plan on doing something about him in The Dispatcher one of these days. I just need to figure out how to skinny it down. His time at Ford really was an ideal background for his position at Willys for many reasons. If it weren’t for him, Willys might have developed a sedan and really not taken advantage of the world renowned Jeep for the civilian market.

    I could bore your for hours….

  9. Bingo

    Was there a toilet paper shortage @ Ford? Just like today’s pandemic, if Charley sneezed, 19 people standing around him crapped their pants.

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