Henry Ford (1863 – 1947)

Smart Finance

Born    : July 30, 1863 in Greenfield Township, Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.

Money Wise

Died     : April 7, 1947 (aged 83) in Fair Lane, Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.

Occupation      : Business, Engineering

Net Worth       : above $188.1 billion, according to Wealthy historical figures 2008, based on information from Forbes – February 2008.

Religious         : Protestant Episcopal

Spouse(s)         : Clara Jane Bryant

Children          : Edsel Ford

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One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do. And, before everything else, getting toady is the secret of success. Driven by a vision of a new technology, rejecting Formal education, and instead trusting in his native brilliance, he built an empire that made him a folk hero of sorts. A popular symbol of the new era that his ingenuity had helped creates Henry Ford to revere more than Bill Gates.

Henry Ford was born in July 30, 1863 in Wayne County, Michigan. He was the son of Irish immigrants, William and Mary Ford, who had settled on a farm in Dearborn. In addition to helping his father with the harvest, Ford also attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. However, Ford disliked both school and farm life, and at age 16, he walked to Detroit in search of employment.

If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability. So, Ford was employed as an apprentice in a machine shop, where he learned about the internal combustion engine. After several years of learning his trade, Ford returned to the family farm and worked part-time for the Westinghouse Engine Company. Ford set up a small machine shop on the farm and began tinkering with engines and machines.

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During this time, Ford fell in love with Clara Bryant, whom he married in 1888. Several years later in 1891, Ford and his wife moved back to Detroit when Ford was made chief engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit. (Edison became close friend with Henry Ford and the two often vacationed together mid had adjoining winter homes in Florida.) The position required Ford to be on- tall 24 hours a day, but the irregular hours allowed him time to experiment. This event signified a conscious decision on Ford’s part to dedicate his life to industrial pursuits. His promotion to Chief Engineer in 1893 gave him enough time and money to devote attention to his personal experiments on internal combustion engines.

Ford knew a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. These experiments culminated in 1896 with the completion of own self-propelled vehicle, the Quadricycle. The Quadricycle had four wire wheels that looked like heavy bicycle wheels, was steered with a tiller like a boat, and had only two forward speeds with no reverse.

Henry Ford realized his dream of producing an automobile that was reasonably priced, reliable, and efficient with the introduction of the Model T in 1908. This vehicle initiated a new era in personal transportation. It was easy to operate, maintain, and handle on rough roads, and it immediately became a huge success initially it took 14 hours to assemble a Model T car. By improving his mass production methods, Ford reduced this to 1 hour 33 minutes. This lowered the, overall cost of each car and enabled Ford to undercut the price of other cars in the market.

Between 1908 and 1916 the selling price of the Model T fell from $1,000 to $360.Through it all, the key to Ford’s success, was his right understanding that the health of his company rested on  consumers spending, not saving, their money. “Buy a Ford and Spend the Difference!” was the slogan Ford himself penned to sell the Model T.

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In 1913, Ford began using standardized interchangeable parts and assembly line techniques in his plant. Although Ford neither originated nor was the first to employ such practices, he was chiefly responsible for their general adoption and for the consequent great expansion of American industry and the raising of the American standard of living. The introduction of the moving assembly line revolutionized automobile production by significantly reducing assembly time per vehicle, thus lowering costs. Ford’s production of Model Is made his company the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Over the next 19 years, Ford built 15,000,000 automobiles with the Model “T” engine, the longest run of any single model apart from the Volkswagen Beetle.

During the next several years, Ford continued to fine-tune his passenger vehicles; In addition, he built racing cars and even drove them himself. However, Ford’s successes were not without problems. Soon after the incorporation of the Ford Motor Company, Ford was threatened by the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers. Ford often said that when everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. After years of legal battles, Ford won his case in 1911, which made it possible for more people to become automobile manufacturers.

Ford was able to market the Model T to the general public because of his advanced production technology. As a result, more automobiles were made available at a lower cost. Ford also instituted the $5.00 a day minimum wage, which he claimed increased productivity. The quote that “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success,” is attributed to Ford.

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He handed over the presidency to his grandson, Henry Ford II. Ford died at his home on April 7, 1947. Although Ford was not the first to build a self-propelled vehicle with a gasoline engine, he was, however, one of several automotive pioneers who helped his country become a nation of motorists. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

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