Henry Ford was one of the most important and influential inventors and businessmen in the short history of America. He revolutionized the business world and he changed forever the efficiency of factories around the world. One of the reasons that Henry Ford can be considered such an important man is that his ideas and concepts are still used today.
Boron on July 30, in the year of 1863, Henry Ford was the oldest child of the family. His parents, William and Mary Ford, were “prosperous farmers” in his hometown of Dearborn.
While they we’re well off for farmers, Ford certainly wasn’t spoiled and fed from silver spoons. Ford was just like any other typical young boy during the rural nineteenth century. From early on there we’re signs that Henry was going to be something more than a farmer. He looked with interest upon the machinery that his father and himself used for their farming, and looked with disdain at the rigorous chores of a farmer.
In the year 1879, Henry being a meager 16 years old, he moved to the city of Detroit where he would work as an apprentice machinist. Henry would remain in Detroit working and learning about all varieties of machines. Although he occasionally came back to visit Dearborn, he mostly stayed in Detroit, picking up more and more valuable knowledge. This apprenticeship allowed him to work in the factories of Detroit and learn what a hard working blue-collar job was like. When he did return to Dearborn he was always tearing apart and rebuilding his fathers machines, along with the dreaded farm chores. Henry Ford was a hard worker and that was proven by him getting fired from one of his jobs in Detroit because the older employees we’re mad at him because he was finishing his repairs in a half hour rather than the usual five hours.
Clara Bryant would represent the next step in now twenty-five year old Henry Ford’s life. The two lovers we’re married in 1888 and would endure good times as well as bad. In order to support his new wife Henry was forced to work the land as he ran a sawmill that was given to him by his father. His father actually attempted to bribe Henry to stay in the farming business as he gave him the land only under the condition that he would continue on as a farmer. Think of what the world would be like if Henry had stayed on as a farmer.
The year was 1891 when Ford was employed as an engineer with the Edison Illuminating Company, located in Detroit. This move also put an end to any chance of Ford becoming a farmer. In just two years Henry’s hard work and dedication paid off as he was promoted to chief engineer. Not only was it a boost in position and confidence but it also gave him the necessary funds and time to start with his personal experiments, starting with internal combustion engines. His interest in this type of engine also shows his creative side, as he was not one to do what everyone else was doing and use the steam engine.
In just 5 short years of many experiments and ideas, Henry Ford completed his self-propelled Quadricycle. It appears to be a bike with an engine on it. The quadricycle had two gears, no reverse gear, four heavy bike tires, and was steered with a tiller, similar to a boat. While it was a great achievement at the time period, it was just the beginning of Henry’s self-propelled vehicles.
Henry was like any other entrepreneur, he had his ups and downs and it took him a few tries before he was able to run a successful business. In 1899 Ford founded the Detroit Automobile Company. It was the first car plant in Detroit, which is now known as “Motown” because of all the car plants that were and are still there, although in dwindling numbers. The Detroit Automobile Company floundered and fell under in late 1900. Ford, not discouraged, took up to it again with the Henry Ford Company, founded around November of 1901. This company was brought down by an internal dispute, which brought forth Ford’s resignation. After two totally unsuccessful tries at the car industry, wouldn’t you think Henry Ford would be discouraged?
Ford was too determined to let a few bumps in the road stop him and he created the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Ford was the vice president and the chief engineer. In 1908, approximately five years after the first Model A was sold, the Model T was produced. It was reasonably priced, reliable and efficient, and it sent Ford off to a whole new level. Without the Model T who knows what would have happened to Fords company. However this car would become so popular that 10 years after its arrival, it was driven by half of all car-owning Americans.
Many people know Ford as an innovator as far as cars are concerned but it was more a matter of his “combined precision manufacturing, standardized and interchangeable parts, a division of labor, and, in 1913, a continuous moving assembly line” (quote taken from Henry Ford Museum website) that made him able to take off in the car industry. The assembly line was so incredibly important as not only did it increase production rates but also it decreased prizes and allowed for people to become specialists in one area of car building.
Ford remembered his days as a hard working blue-collar employee and he made an excellent business move in January of 1914. He raised pay up to what was a very nice five dollars a day and shortened his workers days from nine hours to eight hours. His rivals we’re furious and the move immediately cost him about ten million dollars. However in the long run it paid off and it was such a great move that other companies followed in his footsteps soon after.
Henry Ford spent the rest of his life devoted to his cars and he was truly a blessed man as he was able to do something that came naturally, and it was something that he loved. Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947. He lived a very fulfilling and productive 84 years. Upon his death, newspaper editorials looked at him as a hero, a patriot, economist, reformer, and plenty more things. The effect that Henry Ford left on American factories and business was important and everlasting.
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