Henry Ford, one of America’s financial titans, was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and was one of the patrons of the technique of mass production. His insight as to how to run his business opened up new frontiers for others to come. He was not the first to invent or implement this technique, but he was in fact the first to make it affordable for the average American. You could say then that he was in fact the person who reinvented the automobile industry by making use of assembly lines like no one before him. This makes him a true innovator of his time.
His early life
Ford was born on July 30, 1863 near Dearborn, Michigan, being the first-born son to William and Mary Ford, who led a farm life in Wayne County. Something that truly stood out, and started to show signs of his unique mind frame, was a famous anecdote of when he was 13 years old. He father gave him his first pocket watch as a gift, and the first thing he did was take it apart and then put it back together. It was evident from then on that he had a talent for disassembling and reassembling things so word spread quickly, and soon he was fixing neighbor’s timepieces.
He was never fully satisfied with his life on a farm and he left home at the early age of 16 to take on an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit with James F. Flowers & Bros. He then moved on to work with Detroit Dry Dock Co. During his apprenticeships he learned how to be a skillful operator of steam engines, but in this time he also studied bookkeeping at Goldsmith, Bryant & Stratton Business College.
In 1882, he returned to Dearborn where we worked again on the farm. While there he became very familiar to working with the Westinghouse portable steam engine, and even ended up working for them servicing their engines. In this period of his life, he also married Clara Jane Bryant and they had one child in 1893, Edsel Ford.
First steps in his career
Three after getting married he was hired as an engineer by Edison Illuminating Company. Due to his natural talents and hard work he was promoted to chief engineer in 1893. Even though he was hard at work at Edison, he never stopped dreaming. He would continue to work on his plans to develop a horseless carriage. He built his first model in 1896, named the Ford Quadricycle and in that same year he had a meeting with Thomas Edison, who encouraged him to build a second, more improved model. They would eventually become close friends, even to the point of vacationing together across America. He would always be referenced by Ford as an inspiration to him and one of the reasons he accomplished what he did in his life.
The start of a new company
Once he had built a few models, he had enough to establish his own company, Ford Motor Company in 1903. He introduced his first commercialized automobile, the Model T, in October 1908. The company had great revenue, but this wasn’t what made him famous. He took a business that already existed and revolutionized how the whole industry viewed manufacturing. He ran his company by manufacturing inexpensive automobiles with skilled workers, who were earning a fixed income. In 1914, the moving assembly line technique for mass production products was developed thanks to the support of Ford. Ford’s Model T gained a reputation for being easy to drive and inexpensive to repair and this was why at least half of the card in America in 1918 were bought at the Ford Motor Company.
As a visionary he had many accomplishments such as including vertical integration in his plants. This basically meant that all of the material was produced directly by them and cut back on costs by shipping crates with pieces to the different assembly plants rather than cars. This at the same time created more jobs in America. He also had a hand in innovating how workers were paid to assure he had the most skilled employees working for him, by doubling the current standards and reducing one hour of work a week. His brilliant industrial revolutions, along with his salary strategies earned him a spot as a financial titan of his time.
From a different perspective
Henry Ford was also well recognized for this social perspective. When hiring someone he would always make sure that they were not only the best possible technical candidates, but also good examples and led their lives in a respectable manner. He founded the Ford Foundation in 1936 to continue his work from three aspects: research, education and development. He passed away due to a cerebral hemorrhage near his hometown on April 7, 1947, at the age of 83. It is evident that his legacy did not die with him. He will always be remembered as one of the leaders of his time.