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Have you ever heard the name ‘Henry Ford’ during entrepreneurial discussions?
Ever wondered who he was and why almost every budding entrepreneur tries to import his qualities?
In either case, stick throughout the blog to get inspired and learn from the journey of Henry Ford.
Life before Ford Motors
Henry Ford is considered one of the pioneers who changed the automobile industry upside down. It is only because of his contributions to producing cars, educational programming, and activities that bring the founder of Ford Motor Company’s journey to life and perspective.
Born on July 30th, 1863, to Mary Ford & William Ford, Henry spent his early life in Springwell Township at Michigan. He was just thirteen in 1876 when his mother(Mary Ford)passed away.As expected from an adolescent, he became numb and felt meaningless after she died.
He loved his mother in such an immense manner that he reluctantly spent time on the farm even though being uncomfortable with farming. He did so only to relive the moments he spent with his mother on the farm.
Henry Ford was obsessed with machines and mechanics. When he visited the town, he came to know about technologies related to engines and mills. He finally made his way to Detroit, where he worked as a machine operator for a short time, learning everything there was to know about mechanical engineering.
Ford dismantled everything he could get his hands on as a kid and became popular for repairing people’s watches. He learned to improve steam engines and mill operations during his teenage years.
Such continuous exposure and constant lookup for opportunities helped him to broaden his horizon.
His level of interest in mechanics & other related fields was at such a level that in the 1890s, Ford started working on internal combustion engines. With his interest increasing gradually, he became even more curious and desperate to commence his journey in the automotive industry.
Despite having developed a robust career at Edison Illuminating, his journey of experimentation in the industry highlights self-belief.
Even though Henry Ford could have continued his job at Edison’s, he chose the other way around to try out his different ideas. It is believed that Henry Ford’s fortunes started turning in his favor after he tied the wedding knot with Clara Bryant in April 1888.
Ford joined the Edison Illuminating Company in 1891, where he started working as an engineer.
By and By, along with his career & entrepreneurial mindset, Ford’s family also expanded with the birth of his son, Edsel Ford, in 1893.And in the same year, 1893, Henry Ford pushed his ranks to Chief Engineer at Edison’s.
His promotion brought in the missing factor that prevented Ford from executing his ideas, which was financial stability.After 1893, he became even more confident in his exploration journey. In 1896, Henry Ford tried the experimentation of building an ethanol-powered vehicle that eventually got named as Ford Quadricycle.
According to the reports, Ford invented his first vehicle, Quadricycle, in his small workshop. Henry Ford was a natural leader, possessing exceptional enthusiasm and determination. He emphasized limitation-free thinking and planned action.
After founding Ford Motor Company on 6th June 1903, Ford worked extensively, with the same courage of experimentation and invention.And his experiments did work and made the company enlisted in top automakers of the world.
Henry Ford was the kind of person who vehemently opposed wars and promoted harmony. It was only due to his ideas of peace & harmony that turned him into one of the many pacifiers during World War I.
It was because of his dedication & enthusiasm towards the company that made Henry Ford work until 1945, two years before he died at the age of 83.Despite his worsening health conditions, Henry Ford continued to work until he died in 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
According to the reports in the public domain, The last words spoken by Henry Ford are said to be “I’ll sleep well tonight,”
Although his last words have not been verified, they certainly reflect his idea of a fulfilled life.
Primary challenges Faced by Henry Ford
Having achieved financial stability in 1899, Ford left Edison Illuminating Company and decided to start his own business.
In August of the same year, 1899, after raising capital from a wealthy businessman, William H. Murphy, he started the Detroit Automobile Company. Although led by an innovative and experienced leader, Henry, the company failed to produce cost-efficient automobiles. That ultimately resulted in shutting down the company after two years in 1901.
After which Henry Ford invented the 26-horsepower automobile with the assistance of C. Harold Wills in October 1901.And to everyone’s surprise, the car ran smoothly on the racing tracks.
Though a meager success, the Ford-Wills duo attracted stockholders such as William Murphy and Detroit Automobile Company. As a result, the foundation of Henry Ford Company was laid on November 30, 1901.
Ford was designated as the Chief Engineer of the company, named after him. Unfortunately, things started to turn ugly when Murphy hired Henry M. Leland as a consultant in 1902.
Ultimately owing to creative differences between Leland & Ford, the latter decided to quit the company. And Leland renamed the company Cadillac Automobile Company after Ford’s departure.
Having quit the company, Ford started to double down his efforts to establish himself in the industry.In the subsequent years, he created the 80+ horsepower racer 999 along with a cyclist named Tom Cooper.
Ford received support from an old friend, Alexander Y. Malcomson, a coal dealer in the Detroit area. To produce automobiles, they formed a partnership called “Ford & Malcomson, Ltd.” that later transformed to Ford Motor Company.
The first Ford automobile consisting of two-cylinder, eight-horsepower Model A, was manufactured at a plant on Mack Avenue in Detroit a month after the company got established.
The company produced only a few cars every day at the time, and they were made by hand by groups of few employees using parts ordered from other companies.
The Model T, which debuted in October 1908, was the outcome of Ford’s commitment to producing a powerful and reliable car that’d be inexpensive to all. It was Henry Ford’s ninth production vehicle. He dubbed it “the universal car” because it was a low-cost, dependable vehicle.
Bringing Automobiles to the Masses
Apart from automobiles, Henry Ford’s popularity was due to his understanding of the cost of the vehicles that could challenge the status quo. Before Ford, especially Model T, cars were considered a luxury commodity.
Most of his early rivals produced automobiles only to serve the people from an affluent background.Ford realized that, with the proper methods, automobiles could be made accessible to ordinary people too.
Therefore, he concentrated on improving the production process to make more cars while reducing the cost.
Ford also understood that his company was about more than just automobiles; it was also about transportation, mobility, and evolving lifestyles. He expected mass manufacturing(assembly line) to generate more jobs.
Ford never heard of any administrative working regulations, the one that exists today. Although he’s been making cars, it turns out, culture really meant something to him, and we can learn from his strategies.
Henry Ford was determined to create an easy, reliable, and inexpensive car in 1908, one the average worker could buy. His goal was to develop the Model T using the mass production method to reduce the costs.
Every factory worker could see how their job helped in producing affordable cars for middle-class earning groups. In a span of four to five years, they executed Ford’s imagination in such a manner that the price decreased steadily. Besides, Ford also ensured to pay his workers the first 40-hour workweek, increasing their wages to almost twice the average American worker’s hourly wage at the time.
As expected from a true leader’s guidance, all the workers shared a common goal and displayed a true form of teamwork.They made dreams of the middle-class true by designing inexpensive cars.
The concept of an inexpensive car was so exciting it made the assembly line even more affordable through working efficiently.As a result of smart-hard work, the workers got relieved with short work weeks and an increased pay grade, thereby creating a pleasant work environment.
Although Ford might never have heard the word “organisational culture,” he realized the strength of a shared vision’s influence and the effect of a common goal. Such minute yet important components act instrumental in building an empire.
Today, over a century after promising his staff they would create a car that everyone could buy, Ford Motor Company still ranks among one of the world’s best-known and largest automakers.
Top 2 Business Lessons from Henry Ford’s Life
Innovating & Executing
Not many people are aware that Henry Ford didn’t invent cars, apart from Model T, Ford Quadricycle, and few other vehicles. Also, though he pioneered the Assembly Line approach for mass production, Ford wasn’t the inventor of the process. Ransom E. Olds is believed to be the person who invented the Assembly Line.
We know, now you must be thinking that if he never actually invented automobiles or processes, what did he actually do? The answer to that question is innovation.
Instead of spending months inventing new processes, Henry Ford focused on making modifications in the pre-existed ones.One needs to understand that this doesn’t mean that Henry Ford only tweaked pre-existing customs and did not invent at all.
He did invent cars such as Quadricycle and Model T but emphasized the innovation and execution part more.
It was only due to his modifications in the Assembly line process that helped produce one Model T in just 24 seconds.
Innovation without execution is just hallucination – Henry Ford.
In many situations, a dilemma gets developed in our brains while thinking about a strategy to upscale anything. That ultimately leads to what is popularly called a creative block, a phase devoid of ideas.
The innovative process and planned execution can help us overcome that phase by modifying the existing customs.
Understanding the requirement of customers
One of the skills that Henry Ford mastered during his initial entrepreneurial phase was marketing and researching. He could underscore the mistakes that his counterparts made back then in the early 1900s.
After spending enough time among middle-class Americans, Ford realized the importance of the affordability factor. Owing to this, he implemented the Assembly Line production of Model T.
That resulted in inexpensive yet efficient automobiles that an average family could afford.Ford’s step to produce cost-effective cars not only made ordinary people buy cars, but it also helped in the exponential rise of the company.
Many businesses tend to skip the process of understanding their customer base because of future lucrative profits.That, in the long run, can lead to declination in profits and, in some cases, bankruptcy.
Thus, people need to impart Ford’s techniques of understanding the market to upscale their businesses.
Henry Ford’s legacy
Henry Ford had an immense effect on the environment. His mass-market invention turned rural economies in the United States and worldwide into manufacturing and urban economies. Several historians also credit him for establishing the American middle class.
His high minimum wages, which were revolutionary at the time, helped establish a standard for fair company wealth distribution that later got adopted in several companies.
Although Henry Ford was a complex man with controversial beliefs, his impact on the car industry cannot be overstated.
Ford Motor Company is still driven by his spirit of creativity that became evident after cars such as the F-150 & Mustang.
With these successes, Henry Ford can easily be regarded as the father of efficiency and contemporary work culture. His overview of the 40-hour workweek and the use of high salaries as an incentive has been absorbed into American culture collectively.
Henry Ford had a very humanitarian view of the workers, and he aspired to create an organization where employees were free to innovate and were praised for their efforts.
Ford Motors remains a symbol of American innovation, industrialism, and drive for excellence to this day.
We at Robust Story hope that our readers must have imparted some qualities from Henry Ford’s journey.
Don’t forget to tell the traits you learned from Ford in the comment section below.
Also Read, ROLEX – JOURNEY OF THE BRAND SINCE 1905.