This blog will expand on themes and topics first mentioned in my book, "The Automobile and American Life." I hope to comment on recent developments in the automobile industry, reviews of my readings on the history of the automobile, drafts of my new work, contributions from friends, descriptions of the museums and car shows I attend and anything else relevant to those interested in automobiles and auto history. Copyright 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 , 2016, 2017, by the author.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
Betsy De Vos and her Connection to the Automobile Industry
Edgar Dale Prince
Thanks to Ed Garten for this material. IN SUM, THE AMERICAN MADE COUNTLESS FORTUNES DURING HTE 20TH CENTURY. THAT IS WHY WE CANNOT LOSE OUR COMPETITIVE EDGE AS WE COMPETE WITH OTHER MANUFACTURERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE!
Love her or hate her, Donald Trump's new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has a strong family connection to the automobile industry. DeVos' father, Edgar Prince of Holland, Michigan, made his fortune manufacturing auto parts. But perhaps his greatest innovation was one that women can't do without today: Prince invented the lighted sun visor mirror. How often have we seen, at red light stops, women drivers pulling down their sun visors, looking into the lighted mirror, and then quickly putting on make-up? And then there is the occasional male driver, adjusting his tie in the lighted mirror or making sure he doesn't have a five-o'clock shadow before going into the office. What would we do without Edgar Prince to light up our faces?
Edgar Dale Prince was born on May 3, 1931 in Holland, Michigan, the son of Edith (De Weert) and Peter Prince and died in 1995 at the young age of 63. His father was a local businessman who died of a stroke when Edgar was 11. His parents belonged to the Reformed Church in America and traced their ancestry back to the Netherlands. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he received a bachelor of science degree in engineering.
Prince started his career at a company manufacturing die cast machines in Holland, Michigan. He quit in order to start his own manufacturing business with the help of two co-workers. The venture proved very successful and was a leading manufacturer of die-cast machines in Michigan by the 1970s. The Prince Corporation also operated a successful diversification into auto parts by developing sun visors and other interior systems for car manufacturers. After a long period of sustained growth, it employed thousands in the early 1990s at its many plants.
Ownership in the business made Prince one of the wealthiest men in Michigan. Prince collapsed in an elevator and died in 1995. Throughout his career he had congenital heart disease. His company was sold the following year for $1.35 billion and is now a unit of Johnson Controls.