The Success Story of Henry Ford

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The Success Story of Henry Ford

Henry Ford’s contribution as a leader can be best summed up by the following quote: “I will build a motorcar for the great multitude,” (Brainy, 2001). He didn’t invent the assembly line; he innovated it. He enabled cars to be manufactured at a lower cost so that the average person could purchase one rather than just the rich. With this goal in mind, 55% of all cars at the time were Henry’s Model T (Interesting, 2008). This revolutionized the automobile industry.

On July 30, 1863 William and Mary Ford gave birth to their first of six children, Henry Ford. Ford grew up on a family farm in a house built by his father in Springwells Township, Michigan. Ford’s mother died when he was twelve while giving birth, causing him to become very depressed. His father wanted him to take over the family farm over the course of time but he declined, telling his father that he loved the farm just because his mother was there. At the young age of fifteen, Ford attained the status of watch repairman by taking apart and putting back together the pocket watches of neighbors and friends several times, starting when he was thirteen years old. Although Ford did not like working on the farm, he did learn that there was great value in working hard and being responsible.

Ford's adulthood began at age 16 when he moved away from his father and siblings to the city of Detroit. Due to the death of his mother, Henry moved away to pursue his interest in mechanics. He would return sometimes to help out on the farm because part of him desired the farm life and the other yearned for the mechanist lifestyle. He arrived at Detroit in 1879 and began working for the Flower Brothers Company. The Flower Brothers shop made brass and iron; Ford was an apprentice and worked on a small milling machine shaping brass valves. Within nine months, Ford left the shop to Detroit Dry Dock Company, the largest shipbuilding factory in the city, with the desire to enrich his mechanical experience. Working for Detroit Dry Dock Company served to his own benefit. Here he was exposed to a wide range of power plants and to Frank E. Kirby, who became his chief engineer in 1918 and constructed Eagle Boats used during War World I. His shift in jobs acquainted him with some experience but also provided him with a much lower pay. Thus, he worked a second job repairing watches.

In 1891, Ford became an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1896, Ford attended a meeting of Edison executives, where he was introduced to Thomas Edison. With the help of C. Harold Wills, Ford designed, built, and successfully raced a 26-horsepower automobile in October 1901. After this, he returned to the family farm and had a season of ambivalence; part of him desired the farm life and the other yearned for the mechanist’s lifestyle. For some time he lived at the far as an urban mechanist; however a new mechanical opportunity occurred.

When he arrived in Detroit William H. Murphy and other stockholders in the Detroit Automobile Company formed the Henry Ford Company on November 30, 1901, with Ford as chief engineer. He constantly found himself in the scientific world of books, reading publications like the Scientific American, Treatise on the Steam Engine, and World of Science, where he first discovered the new "silent gas engine". With the help of the “silent gas engine,” Ford introduced the Model T on October 1, 1908. It had the steering wheel on the left, which every other company soon copied and was one of the very few to use Vanadium Steel (“Wikipedia,” 2011). By 1926, flagging sales of the Model T finally convinced Henry to make a new model and end assembly of the Model T. The result was the successful Ford Model A, introduced in December 1927 and produced through 1931, with a total output of more than four million. Ford was a pioneer of "welfare capitalism", designed to improve the lot of his workers and...
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