POWER by Sarah Morgans


How J.D. Power III Became the Auto Industry's Adviser, Confessor, and Eyewitness to History
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An authorized biography of J.D. Power, who built an eponymous business that revolutionized the relationship between automobile manufacturers and consumers.

Morgans, who specializes in authorized histories of corporations and biographies of their colorful founders, and Thorness (Biking Puget Sound: 50 Rides from Olympia to the San Juans, 2007, etc.), a freelance writer with a background in the business press, provide a clearly written account of how Power quit a stable job to invent a new kind of market research company in 1968. Power was a partner in the composition of the book, referred to by his nickname "Dave" throughout the text. The narrative often reads like a valentine, and thus it is difficult to discern whether the co-authors found any negative information on their subject. However, the evidence is convincing that Power is both a visionary and a moral, nice human being. The fast-talking reference in car advertisements about the imprimatur of J.D. Power and Associates has probably left viewers and listeners wondering who or what that entity really is, and the authors write that many consumers never realized that "J.D. Power" is an actual individual. Morgans and Thorness lift the curtain, showing Power’s individuality as a slowly developing business tycoon who eventually sold his creation to a much larger corporation yet remained active in management. Since General Motors, Ford, Toyota and other companies realized they needed reliable information from consumers, information that helped them design more desirable vehicles, repair flaws and appear sympathetic to purchasers, most of the auto manufacturers figure into the saga. The authors make the case that Power has made a significant impact on the quality of automobiles and how they are sold at the retail level. When manufacturers tried to misrepresent results of J.D. Power surveys to their advantage, Power has often quietly intervened on the side of honesty.

An occasionally hagiographic but surprisingly captivating biography.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-9818336-7-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Fenwick Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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