Henry Ford Success Story
Some businessmen creative innovative products. Others create massive fortunes. Very few create an entire system of production, an entire industry, and one of the world's biggest companies, all within the same time period. Henry Ford, one of the world's most important industrialists, is one of the few that have done such a thing, and his story remains one of the world's most inspiring and interesting.
Born in 1863 in a small township that's now part of Detroit, Michigan, Henry Ford's early life was spent on a small rural farm. With a farmer for a father and a housewife for a mother, Ford's earliest years were spent surrounded by machinery. Impressed by farm equipment but uninterested in farm work as a career, he began training as a machinist in his late teens at a business in Detroit.
Ford was known as a talented repairman, having assembled and repaired watches during his early childhood years. His talents were soon put to the test as an engineer at the Edison Company, one of the city's pioneering mechanical corporations. He invested heavily in the company's projects, and in his own too, eventually creating the Ford Quadricycle, an invention that would contribute heavily to his later engineering feats designing motorcars.
After a series of investments with the Dodge brothers – a family that would later go on to create its own automobiles – Ford created a racing car. With almost one-hundred horsepower, it was one of the fastest vehicles of its generation, turning heads as well as dominating on the track. Seeing the potential of automobiles, Ford set out to create an inexpensive car for the American 'Everyman.'
Seeing that the consumer-focused automobiles of his day were cumbersome and difficult to drive, Ford set out to create a car that anyone, given a few minutes of explanation, could control. One of his first creations, and one of his greatest successes, was the Model T. Inexpensive yet high quality, it was an immediate hit with the middle class of America, and sold in immense quantities.
To meet such high demand, and to stick with the model's low price point, Ford set out to create an innovative system of production. His production line system was an incredible development in its day, allowing Ford's workers to produce cars much more quickly than before. His company made more cars than all others combined, all the while paying its workers higher wages than competitors.
Ford has, as any automotive enthusiast will know, gone on to become one of the world's biggest and most successful car manufacturers. Many of the innovations that Henry Ford developed are normal within the engineering world today, including the semi-automated production line and higher-than-normal wages for engineers. His contributions to engineering are immense and widely celebrated.
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford
Despite occasional criticisms due to his anti-Semitism and controversial 'social monitoring' tests for employees, Ford remains an icon of the industrial era and one of the business world's most valuable figures. A hard-working, intelligent, and street smart visionary, his long-lasting success proves that a great vision can result in hundreds of years of results.
Order of the German Eagle
Elliott Cresson Medal