Life and times of Henry Ford


Everyone knows who Henry Ford is. But, all we know is, he happens to be the founder of Ford Motor Company and an assembly line manufacturing  to the mass  of affordable automobiles. Now, lets see what one can learn from his successful life and a story behind his accomplishments. Many socio economic theorists suggests this period of time as “Fordism”.


His early days

Henry Ford was born on June, 1863 in a farm in Dearborn, Michigan. His father William and Mary Ford, who happen to be the immigrants from County Cork, Ireland. He was the eldest of six children. Henry was always passionate about mechanics. When he was 12, he spent almost of his time at a machine shop unlike others playing outdoors. By 15, he had already built his first combustion engine.

In 1879 he left his home to work as an apprentice machinist. First with James F. Flower&Bros and later with Detroit Dry Dock Co.  He later got a job with Westinghouse Company working on gasoline engines. In 1888, he married to Clara Bryant and supported himself by running a sawmill.

In 1891 Ford became an engineer with the Illuminating company where he got promoted to chief engineer in 1893. In 1896, he completed his own propelled vehicle named Quadricycle, which was the first automobile he ever drove.

It was an his initial success. He left his current job and formed the Detroit Automobile Company. It, however went bankrupt as Ford paid concentration on improving the model rather than selling them.

With his growing interest in racing cars, he formed a second company, the Henry Ford Company. Ford was forced out of the company by the investor  in 1902, and then the company was recognized as Cadillac.

In 1903, Ford A was set up where he hired few young men who believed in his vision. In 1904, more than 500 models of A were sold.

Well, wealthy were choosing the luxurious cars as they can easily afford it. But, Ford had a different mission. He wanted the automobile to reach every individual. Model T, made his dream come true. This was more simpler and reliable than Model A, Model T was nicknamed as “Tin Lizze” which went on sale in 1908 and it was a huge success. There were so many orders coming up for the car, that the factory was already swamped. Ford had to think of an other option. His assembly line manufacturing : the solution.

In 1913, the mass production was born. Usually it takes almost 12 and half hours to build a Model T. Ford figured out the perfection in an year and now the Model T can be built in 93 minutes. This was more perfect and secure. This made him to cut down the prices of the cars which enabled the masses to afford the car and increased wages to the workers. The turnover of the company was so high he had to hire 1000 workers and pay $5 per day which flocked the Ford company.

In 1919, he brought all his stakeholders. Through out 1920s the workers pulled number of T’s at Rouge. This is when he met his first, real competitor- Chevrolet, where they released a new model every year. With this, Ford rolled back to the loss where thousands of workers left and at the age of 64, he had to find a way to get back to his place in the market.

This gave the birth to the new Model A. Model A was successful which rode away from depression for 2 years. In 1931, Ford was caught up with depression and after 3 years, the sales of Model A went down. Once again, Ford had to shut down his company.

You have to find a way to your goal until you are satisfied with the results. His inspiration got back the workers and built an innovative  8 cylinder car Ford V-8 which put Ford back on the pavilion. He was now again, on the top. It was more than 8 miles per hour and was an apple in the eye to everyone who craved for luxury.

World War -2, where Ford had a big share in helping the army. Ford Motor co. built B- 24 liberated Bomber.  His son Edsel died in 1943. Plagued by  his own medical problems, Henry Ford still continued to do something with Ford reigns.

In 1943, his 26 year old grandson comes home from Navy to reduce the chaos in the Ford Motor Co. Ford continuously declined to Henry 2 for the presidential post, the threatens from his daughter-in-law, got him to approve the throne of Ford Company in 1945,  finally.

After this, he went into seclusion. All his 8 years of passion about Ford died. His presence became a rare sight in the company and only appeared in the events. On an April evening, in 1947, he laid rest on his wife’s shoulder and died of cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 84. Many companies, industries shut down to show their condolences.

There was a long queue to witness his body to show the sympathy on the man who changed millions of lives and taught America to drive.


Henry was not the one who invented an automobile. For the matter of the fact, he didn’t even invent the assembly line. But, more than anyone, he was responsible for transforming the automobiles from an invention of unknown to an innovation that shaped the 20th century and still continuing  to affect the lives.

Innovation requires self-confidence, a gut to take risks, a brave heart to accept the failures, a vision of the future and leadership ability. Henry Ford had all these characteristics in him which took him many years to develop all of them completely.

We can learn that Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again. No one can understand what an other person’s battle is until you step on into his battle field. Just the way, we wouldn’t able to understand what exactly happened in his life, but for sure, the difference he has made in our current lives would tell us the struggles he faced. Henry Ford’s life is the best example to prove that life is a bumpy, humpy road but at one point you will surely reach the ‘forever’ straight path.

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