Research suggests Henry Ford was born 1863, in a farm near Detroit, Michigan. His family practiced farming and when her mother died, Ford was in his twenties, and his father expected him to carry on with the farm work following his mother’s death. However, he underlined to his father that he loved to see her mother working on the farm, but he disliked farming (Nabli 5). As a young boy, Ford was widely revered for disassembling and reassembling watches in his immediate neighbors, therefore, referred to as watch “repairman.” In 1879, he worked in the township of Detroit but later returned home to work in their family farm where he became a skilled operator of the Westinghouse steam engine. Later, the Westinghouse Company hired him to be servicing their steam engine (Stevens 56). Ford developed his career as a steam engineer and later founded Ford Motor Company. Through his company, Ford manufactured Model T Ford, a vehicle that revolutionized the transportation industry in America.
While working as an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company, Ford was promoted to the position of chief engineer. His new position gave him time and resources to develop and improve his experiences on handling gasoline engines. After several experiments, he introduced self-propelled vehicle (Nabli 11). He named it Ford Quadricycle and after the test drive approval, he started working on different ways of improving it (Eyewitness to History 34).
After attending Edison executives meeting in 1896, Ford met Thomas Edison, who approved his automobile experimentations and encouraged him to further his automobile experiments. This motivated Ford to start working on his second vehicle, which he completed in 1898. Following the immense success of this work, Ford resigned from Edison and started his own company, Detroit Automobile Company (Nabli 15). The company produced automobiles of low quality, but of high prices and this prompted Ford to dissolve the company due to its relatively poor achievements. After the closure of Detroit Automobile Company, Ford successfully, designed and built a 26-horsepower automobile. This development facilitated Ford and other individuals to form Henry Ford Company with Ford as the chief engineer. However, Ford left the company due to a series of poor results. In addition, Fords’ departure from Henry Ford Company was also facilitated by the introduction of new consultants at the company. It is noteworthy to indicate that after his departure the company was renamed Cadillac Automobile Company.
Teaming up with other people, like retired cyclist Tom Cooper, he managed to produce an 80+ horsepower racer, which was driven by Barney Oldfield to victory in October 1902. After these remarkable successes, Ford received the full backing Alexander, his friend, and they ended up forming a manufacturing company called Ford & Malcomson, Limited. With this company, Ford designed and manufactured inexpensive automobiles (Stevens 39). Further, the company managed to produce and supply parts of machines amounting to over $160,000. However, after sometimes, the sales reduced and this led the company into crisis. The crisis emerged when the Dodge Brothers requested payment for their first shipments to Ford & Malcomson Ltd. This crisis was only resolved when Malcomson brought additional investors onboard and convincing Dodger Brothers to accept a fraction of the new company. This agreement led to the reincorporation of Ford & Malcomson to Ford Motor Company (Stevens 67).
Ford Motor Company
This new company managed to design a new car, which Ford took for an exhibition on the ice of Lake St. Clair. He drove the car at a speed of 1.6 Km per 39.4 seconds, which was a new land speed record at 147.0 Km per hour. Barney Oldfield, the then race driver, was convinced with the success of Ford’s new model and named the car Ford Model “999,” in honor the locomotive racing of those days. After exhibition, Oldfield took Ford’s new model around the country, an action that generated immense publicity for the car model.
Model T: A Car for Great Magnitude
This model was introduced in October1908, and its steering wheel was designed on the left, a feature that was copied by automobiles. The engine and the entire transmission system of this car were fully enclosed. It was simple to drive, cheap and relatively easy to repair. It was as cheap as $825 by 1908, which translates to approximately $20,100 in the contemporary world. Nevertheless, this price decreased steadily and by the 1920s, a considerable number of Americans had bought the car and had already learned how to drive the Model T (Young 50). Model T transformed the lives of many low-income workers by granting them the opportunity to own cars.
Henry Ford ensured maximum publicity of the new Ford Model by ensuring that almost every newspaper and advertisements highlighted a story of his new product. One of Ford’s network dealers made the car peculiar in almost all the cities of North America. Through the new Ford model, this dealer’s franchise sale increased. This dealer did not only publish Ford’s vehicles but all other concepts and features relating to it (Stevens 34). The vehicle’s design made Ford to consider selling his new car model to farmers who perceived it as a commercial vehicle. Generally, the overall sales of model T Ford were very high.
Ford was always researching on how to improve and advance efficiency and lower the cost of this car, therefore, he introduced an assembly belt that led to increased production (Stevens 47). Even though Ford was credited for his company’s successful ideas, the ideas originated from his employees (Stevens 27). The introduction of the assembly belt increased production and production efficiency, which lowered the production cost and subsequently, the cost of the cars. The new cost of Model T basic touring car was approximately $360. This led to an overwhelming sale of Model T in 1914, and Americans increasingly drove on the Model T and by 1918, half of the cars on the road were Model T (Young 67). The massive production of this car continued until late 1927 when 15,007,034 vehicles were produced. In fact, this record production lasted for over 45 years.
Model T played a significant role in transforming America’s social, cultural and economic life. Moreover, it elevated Henry Ford as a fully-fledged automobile hero (Stevens 45). However, Ford was not satisfied with this achievement, and he wanted to try a hand in politics. He joined national politics and engaged in global political affairs. Before the United States could join World War 1, he was among the few individuals who discussed the importance and significance of America taking part in the war. Moreover, he was among the delegates who went to France to lead talks aimed at ending the war.
Following Fords success, influence, and massive wealth, President Woodrow Wilson exhorted him to run for the United States Senate seat for the state of Michigan on a Democrat Party Ticket. Since the nation was at war, Ford decided to run as a peace candidate. Additionally, he strongly supported the introduction of The League of Nations. In 1918, he failed in his quest to become a senator. The following year, he bought the Dearborn Independence newspaper, which initiated and furthered his idea of ant-Semitism (Stevens 80). This newspaper criticized the Jews and contained scurrilous and scandalous conspiracy theories like The Protocol of the Elders of Zion.
In 1921, Model T held sixty percent of the new car market (Stevens 48). The other automobile companies across the world turned their cars into flivvers “and sold them at a throw away price.” Henry Ford’s main challenge was mainly to ensure that most of his car models remained competitive in the ever-changing industry.
In solving this problem, he purchased the Lincoln Automobile Company. The move increased the production of the Model T cars (Nabli 32). Ford had a long-term plan of creating the largest, most efficient and reliable automobile factory in the world. In achieving this vision, he placed his factory on the 2000-acre farm, which had nine miles of rail track. In addition, the piece of land was enough to provide adequate space for efficient production of over forty-one vehicle per hour in addition to handling of raw materials. Moreover, the plant had its own power source and lubrication plants.
The end of the Great Model T
The sales of the model T Ford started to decline as competition in the automobile industry increased. Other automobile companies started selling their vehicle to the customers at relatively cheaper prices (Nabli 35). Additionally, they had incorporated new features in their cars. On the contrary, Henry Ford refused to introduce some of these features on the Model T cars despite the advice from the employees and his son, who was then Ford Motor Company President (Stevens 47). The refusal of Ford to respond to the changes in style and fashion and or adjust to the tastes and preferences of the customers made Model T to lose fame. Therefore, it registered a considerable decline in sales. Nevertheless, this did not kill Ford Motor Car Company, but led them into designing a new model of Ford’s automobiles, which is the Model A Ford (Young 100).
Model A Ford
Increased competition in the automobile industry prompted Ford to design a new model of Ford’s cars. He applied great expertise in designing this Model, especially the engine, mechanical necessities and the chassis. He left the construction of the body works to his son who also worked with expertise and included a sliding-shift transmission to the body (Stevens 39). Their combined effort resulted in the successful production of Model A Ford, which was introduced on December 1927. Research suggests that this model was produced for five consecutively years. This was before the introduction of the annual model change system, which was widely aimed at bolstering the corporation’s ability to withstand the stiff competition from the GM.
Ford always wanted to finance bigger corporations and companies. In the 1930s, he fulfilled this objective of financing companies by starting a Universal Credit Corporation, which became renowned as a car-financing cooperation (Stevens 34). Nevertheless, Ford had never believed in accountants. He rose to be one of the wealthiest persons during his time, but never audited his properties or companies finances. Additionally, he was interested in the welfare of his employees; therefore, he pioneered the welfare capitalism, which aimed at improving the working conditions of his employees. Specifically, he wanted his workers, through this organization, to enjoy reduced heavy turnovers and to experience the most efficient means of hiring and retaining quality employees (Nabli 41).
Ford in his numerous entrepreneurial activities and ideas helped in shaping and transforming the world numerous ways. His contributions were mainly related the transportation sector or industry. It is worth mentioning that Ford, like other automobile entrepreneurs, ventured in the aviation industry in the period after the World War 1.His involvement and participation in aviation elevated the aviation sector and enhanced the use of planes as a major form of transportation.