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Semon (Bunky) Knudsen set Pontiac on its feet, is now general manager of Chevrolet.

      It's required at GMI that while going to school there, you have to have a job. Not satisfied with one, Estes held three. He washed dishes for his meals, helped the school janitor for his room, and picked up extra money by working in the school's machine shop. In fact, when he was certificated by GMI in 1938, Estes still had the $1000 in the bank he'd earned in a creamery before going to college.
      When he went back to the Research Laboratories on a full-time basis, Estes was pushed hard to get a degree "to be in the swim" at GM. So he enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, where he took heavy doses of business, history, English, and hydraulics. In 1940, he received his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He returned to his research post at GM and, with World War 11 brewing, Estes assisted in another Kettering project - a remote-control robot plane, probably the world's first guided missile.
      In those years, Estes also got his grounding in high-compression engines as Boss Ket switched his attention from two-cycles. This background quickly reflected in his work at Oldsmobile, where he switched in 1946.
      Olds reached the market with the famed Rocket V-8 in 1949 in a dead heat with Cadillac. Estes quickly steered up Oldsmobile engineering channels, becoming assistant chief engineer there in 1954.
      Estes was asked recently in an interview: Has your engineering background helped or hindered you in the job of being the operational head of nearly 18,000 employees and running a business as complicated as an automobile plant? "My engineering education and background have helped me tremendously in my work and operational habits. Engineers, by nature, have an inquiring mind they want to find the whys and wherefores. Their routines are well organized, and this is a great help." He amplified by saying that a good manager has to know his product. All those working in the engineering department certainly get a first-hand, detailed knowledge of their cars.
      But how about the management of people? "This may be a generality, but most engineers are eccentric by nature," says Estes. "If you can run an engineering department efficiently and cohesively, you can manage anyone."
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February, 1965

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