Triumph People : Sir John Black

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Sir John Black was MD of the Standard Motor Co. (which later incorporated Triumphs) from 1933 until 1953.

John Paul Black was born in February 1895 at Kingston upon Thames. He was educated locally and studied law at the University of London. This education, according to the Standard Triumph Works Directory, "brought out an aptitude for clear-cut decisions" which were to serve him well in the future. During WW1 he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, before transferring to the Royal Tank Regiment where he gained the rank of Captain. Although he had no engineering skills he was a good salesman and joined Hillman Motors in 1918 as Sales Manager. Due to his acumen he was rapidly promoted, becoming a Director in 1919. He also married Daisy Hillman, a daughter of the company founder, although the marriage was later dissolved. After Hillmans were absorbed into the Rootes Group in 1929, he left to work for the Standard Motor Company where he became Joint MD (with founder Reginald Maudslay). Standards were not performing well, and he was instrumental in the turn around of the company increasing production from around 7,000 in 1930 to around 53,500 in 1939, quite an achievement. During WW2 he was appointed chairman of the Joint Aero Engine Committee, his success in this role led to his being given a knightwood in 1943.

After the war Standards were in a good position due to the increase in capacity caused by the 'shadow' factories or "duplicated facilities under the direct control of the parent company" (Oxford University) - two were built adjoining Standard's existing facilities at Canley. One of the first decisions he made was to purchase what was left of the Triumph Motor Co. and its name in 1944, when it became the Triumph Motor Company (1945) Limited, a subsidiary of Standard.