Henry Ford: an Innovator

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a progress; working together is success”, Henry Ford (BrainyQuote). The automobile life revolutionized life in the 1920’s. One man who was at the top of the industry was Henry Ford. He is given credit for creating what we call today Fordism, which is the idea of mass production with inexpensive parts and high wages for workers. Before Ford a car was a luxury, its full potential had not been reached. That changed when Henry ford introduced his Model T car. The middle class was now able to afford this luxury because his car didn’t cost as much.

Also, the quality of the car did not go down with it being made of inexpensive parts. People now realized much of a convenience a car is rather than just a luxury. Henry Ford was now the center of attention in the car industry. In the 1920’s Henry Ford became one of the greatest innovators in U. S. history. Ford was not only a businessman, but an engineer; allowing him to accomplish his goal. His company, Ford Motor Company, would bring the world into the next generation of travel. Ford’s belief in creating something that helped everyone, not just himself, introduced a new way to handle a business.

Also, Ford would spark a revolution in the way people traveled and lived life. Before Ford became a prominent figure in the car industry, he was a machinist and engineer. Henry Ford grew up on a farm near Dearborn, Michigan. Although he grew up doing farm work he always had a passion for machinery. At the age of sixteen Ford walked nine miles into Detroit and began working as a machinist. Henry Ford was different than the other machinist in that he viewed his job as a challenge and a thing of beauty (Weisberger). Ford’s drive and love for machinery are the traits necessary for someone to become successful.

In 1891, Henry Ford got a job as an engineer at Edison Works in Detroit. After working their for two years he was promoted to chief engineer (The Roaring Twenties). While he worked at Edison Works he started a project of his own, a gasoline powered automobile. In 1896, Ford test drove the first Ford-made automobile he called the quadricycle (Weisberger). After a second and third model Ford had an idea, and he knew exactly how to achieve his idea. Henry Ford hastily decided to start his own car company called the Ford Motor Company so he could change the way cars were

viewed. He already had a plan to push his company to the top of the industry. He first set out to make an automobile not look like a horseless carriage. In 1899 and 1901 Ford found backers that were willing to support his company (Weisberger). After giving the automobile a new look he had to advertise his company. To get the peoples attention Ford built a car called the “999” in 1902 and hired Barney Oldfield to drive the car in races. The very next year Ford set a record mile in 39. 2 seconds with his Model B (Weisberger).

However, Henry Ford said “I never thought anything of racing, but the public refused to consider the automobile in any light other than as a fast toy” (Ford). Ford’s idea in his opinion would be beyond what other people could think because the people only looked at the small picture of cars. Now that his company was known he was able to focus on what his goal was from the beginning. Ford thought that in order for the car to be more than just a luxury he had to make it cost less money. If cars don’t cost as much then more people can buy one. In 1908, Ford created the car he set out to make, the Model T.

Ford didn’t stop there though; he continued to make his Model T more affordable. The 1909 model sold for $950 and by 1926 the price for a Model T was $290 (Weisberger). Ford achieved his idea of an affordable car that would be a part of how people go through the day. The way Ford was able to bring the cost down so much was because of his new way of handling a business. Ford was able to produce cars more quickly and efficiently with a new take on an old idea called the assembly line. He combined the assembly line with using the cheapest materials to make his cars.

This gave him the ability to manufacture more cars to be bought and made it affordable for people to buy. By 1914 the Ford Motor Company could put together 200 cars a day (Weisberger). The company also had 40 percent of the nation’s auto business and earned $270,000,000 (Weisberger). This proved that his formula of how to run a business worked. Also in 1914 Henry Ford announced that the minimum wage at his company would be five dollars (The Roaring Twenties). Many people criticized and thought Ford was crazy to offer that much for minimum wage workers (The Roaring Twenties).

Henry Ford expressed his viewpoint on the matter in his autobiography, My Life and Work: “Why do we hear so much talk about “liquidation labour” and the benefits that will flow to the country from cutting wages-which means only the cutting of buying power and the curtailing of the home market? What good is industry if it be so unskillfully managed as not to return a living to everyone concerned? No question is more important than that of wages-most of the people of the country lives on wages. The scale of their living-the rate of their wages-determines the prosperity of the country” (Ford).

In other words, Ford believed that if someone gives you something they deserve to be paid back. Ford would have said if the workers manufacture the cars then they should have the ability to own one. From a business standpoint if he pays his workers and encourages them to buy his product there is more business. He also believed that the country can’t do well unless the people who rely on wages are living well. Ford brought his company to the top of the industry following his own methods of mass production with cheap materials and high wages.

The biggest difference between the Ford Motor company and any other business was that it set out to better the people, and the result was a successful business. Ford did not only make a successful company, he also sparked a revolution in society. Ford was very individualistic when it came to what he thought was right and was never afraid to speak his mind. Those are the traits that made him an innovator and a successful business man. It also pushed the public into believing in his idea and to achieve his goal.

If Ford wasn’t so outspoken the public would have never bought his idea. His whole point of starting his own company could be described as a call for change in transportation. Cars before were a thing of luxury and a toy to the rich. Ford made people realize that cars could be used for so much more. Cars became a part of everyday life in the 1920’s. People started driving cars to run errands, hang out, go to work, and explore by traveling to different places. Farmers began visiting towns more often since it only took a few minutes to get into the town by car.

In addition, towns and cities were getting a lot more business from people who don’t live their because a car made it possible to visit. People in the 1920’s went out a lot to see entertainment and hang with friends because the car made it more convenient to go out. Henry Ford saw all this in a car and made sure everyone else did too. Henry Ford also revolutionized business in society. Ford set new standards and showed how to make a company, in a time that was already doing well, stand out. Other car companies followed Ford’s idea of using an assembly line to offer more cars to the people.

Ford got other car companies and the people to follow him in his idea of the car in everyday life. Henry Ford had an idea of what a car could be and his ability to achieve his idea made him one of America’s greatest innovators in history. In the end Ford’s drive, devotion, and knowledge of cars and business are why he stands out as an innovator. Ford’s experience of being a machinist and engineer made him into a better businessman. He created a company to achieve his goal. Also, he created what we call Fordism that handles business in a way that was never thought of in the past.

Lastly, Ford brought out a change in society in business and everyday life. Works Cited “The Roaring Twenties. ” Follett Shelf. Follett Shelf, n. d. database Ford, Henry, and Samuel Crowther. My Life and Work. N. p. : Doubleday, Page & Company, 1922. Print Ford, Henry. “Famous Quotes. ” BrainyQuote. Xplore, n. d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. . Weisberger, Bernard A. “Chapter 7: America On Wheels- Henry Ford. ” Captains of Industry. New York: American Heritage Pub. ; Book Trade and Institutional Distribution by Harper & Row, 1966. N. pag. Print.