Proud Boys of History: Henry Ford

Henry Ford Henry Ford was a proud boy long before he was the multi-millionaire head of the largest automotive company of the early 20th century. He had the mindset...
The Man Himself.
The Man Himself.

Henry Ford

Henry Ford was a proud boy long before he was the multi-millionaire head of the largest automotive company of the early 20th century. He had the mindset of an entrepreneur his entire life. He learned the technical skill and always had the desire to create and sell his own product.

Starting Out

In 1891, Ford left his job as a farmer to work at Edison Illuminating Company, which was owned and operated by another famous entrepreneur. At Edison, Ford was able to develop his engineering skills while making money that would fund his own experiments. On his own time he built gasoline engines with a vision in mind of a carriage that didn’t require a horse.

In 1893, he completed the build of his first gasoline buggy – the first car in Detroit. This wasn’t a practical car for the family, but it moved without horses. 15 years before the Model T, the buggy was the first automotive Ford created. He said, “The changes have been brought about through experience in the making and not through any change in the basic principle.” Ford never changed the idea he had. He perfected it.

In 1899, Ford quit Edison Company to be found as partial owner and work as chief engineer for the Detroit Auto Company. The cars he built were made to order and then marketed for the highest possible price. This is the way his partners did business, and they didn’t buy his idea of mass production. This led to a product that was too expensive and low quality. This is a bad combination – and the market recognized that. Ford quit and the company lasted less than 18 months before it was dissolved.

Ford went back to work at Edison Illuminating Company.

No, he didn’t.

He built another car and started another company.

Ford started the Henry Ford Company in 1902. After a year he left the company because a partial owner of Henry Ford Co brought in a designer to make changes to Ford’s creation. Ford knew he could build a good product. It was going to be done his way. That first company went on to become Cadillac.

Ford started his third company, Ford & Malcomson, Ltd. The goal was to create an inexpensive auto. This venture failed because of debts called that Ford was unable to meet due to sales not meeting projections.

Ford apologized to his previous boss and took back his job at Edison Company.

No he didn’t.

He started Ford Motor Company in 1903.

The company’s first product was the Ford 999, which set the land speed record at the time of 91 miles an hour. This car put the Ford brand on the map, and the name became recognized across the country.

Five years later, Ford came out with the Model T. This was the car that fulfilled his earlier vision of an inexpensive car that anyone could drive. He accomplished this through simplicity – he demanded inexpensive parts that were easy to fix, and all complexity stripped from the engineering. Plus the moving assembly line, which Ford was one of the pioneers in creating. Ford was adamant about improving the efficiency of production. The Model T was cheap in its first year, and the price went down every year for ten years. Ford saw year over year revenue growth of 100% for several years in a row.

He left a legacy.

Henry Ford is one of the household names for American innovation. The things he did for the automotive industry and the modern factory are still recognized in textbooks. The lesser known facts are the failures he went through. Design failures, financial failures – he was on a losing streak when he founded Ford Motor Company and later became one of the wealthiest people in world history.

Instead of getting down on himself or his situation, he bounced back with a better product every time. Look at the timeline of his companies – Ford had three failed companies between 1899 and 1903 when he founded Ford Motor Company. There’s no time to be bummed out when you’re working towards that timeline.

Henry Ford’s story is one of perseverance, hard work, and skill to overcome failure and see out his idea. It took these characteristics and full confidence in his product to create the winning company that is known internationally today.

Submitted by: Failguy

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