In 1892 Henry Ford completed his first gasoline engine, born on a farm in the area of Dearborn, Michigan 29 years earlier Henry had just fulfilled his first vision. He had been experimenting with gasoline engines as a hobby in his spare time while working at the Detroit Edison Company. His engineering career intrigued him and he found great satisfaction in his accomplishment.
After spending “too much” time on the automobile the Detroit Edison Company felt it best that he resigned and perused his dream. He sold his fist car believing that he could build another lighter than the first. He used the proceeds to buy more materials.
Around 1899 he was later able to find private investors who were willing to spend their money creating the Detroit Automobile Company. He did like the fact that he was not a majority share holder of the company because he couldn’t make the final decisions. When ever he mentioned mass production and lower pricing in order to penetrate their target market he was out voted. So he left.
Ford Motor Corporation is Founded
Henry wouldn’t give up on his vision. He had come so close to seeing fleets of cars rolling out of the companies shop he was heart broken but angry. So he started work in a shed where he developed his four-cylinder 80-horsepower race cars. He named them the 999 and the Arrow. Through several victories Henry was able to spread the Ford name and new interest in his vision.
He raised $28,000 of capital from friends, family, and acquaintances and on June 16, 1903 the Ford Motor Company was born. Henry Ford started producing the Model A, a eight-horsepower two-cylinder automobile. 1,708 of these gorgeous Model A’s were made in just under a year.
Ford Gets Sued
Seeing the success of the Ford Motor business the giant consortium called the Licensed Association of Automobile Manufacturers file a law suit against the Ford Motor on the grounds that Ford was infringing on their rights which were pertect by their patent. The patent was issued to George B. Selden in 1895 and in Henry’s opinion it was void. He took the companies proceeds from the Model A and fought the battle out in court.
Ford Motor Expands
Despite the law suit the Ford motor business moves forward and moved to a bigger manufacturing plant on Piquette and Beaubien Streets still residing in Detroit. They also saw benefits in expanding yet a again in 1904 to a plant in Canada in Walkerville, Ontario.
Henry’s fascination with naming his cars after the alphabet grew, he and his engineers had a Model N, a Model K, a Model A, and a Model T. After Henry’s death naming the vehicles after letters in the alphabet ceased. However, at this time the Model N sold for $500 and was intended to be their high production low profit car. The Model K sold for $2,500 and was the six-cylinder luxury sedan of its day. The Model T had yet to be created.
The Model K was a sore subject for Henry Ford. Because it failed to sell in the numbers expected his partner Alexander Malcolmson resigned. Alexander had helped to found the company in 1903 and it hurt Henry to the core. Henry bought Alexander’s share in the company bringing Henry’s shares to 58.5 percent. What he had been dreaming of since he resigned form the Detroit Automobile Company. Henry then later replaced John S. Gray the president of the company with him self. Ford felt someone with the understanding of the cars and the people could be a better president and leader of the company than a Detroit Banker.
The Assembly Line is Born
By 1908 Ford released its Model T. After expanding his plant to meet production demands they were able to make more than 10,000 by 1909. More than 15 million Model T’s would be produced through 1927. With his controlling stock shares Henry Ford was able to vote all other plans of action down and put his Assembly Line idea into action.
Henry knew as a engineer himself and while watching the workers that there were specific tasks that need to be done, with each task using a specific tool. He then conceived that he each worker were to do one specific job using one tool in a consistent time frame he could increase efficiency. Or that was his hypothesis he was dying to test.
Automobile parts were moved along the line on a conveying belt with each worker doing his or her task to the part as it came to them on the belt until it came to the end of the line finished. This made slower workers have to speed up and gave better time estimates for completion dates by being able to control the rate at which the workers did their jobs. This moving assembly line was installed in the Highland Park assembly plant and made production of the Model T eight times faster than had been.
Ford Wins Patent Law Suit
After eight years of legal battling the Supreme Court in 1911 finally rule the Selden patent void and the way was open for many other automobile companies to compete for market share. The heavy weight that was on the Ford motor business of having to pay licensing fees to the Selden syndicate was lifted.
World War I
April 1917, Ford Motor gave its loving attention to the war effort. During World War I produced large quantities of automobiles, trucks, and ambulances, as well as Liberty airplane motors, Whippet tanks, Eagle submarine chasers, and munitions.
Henry Ford officially retired in 1918 and named his son Edsel president and gave him controlling interest in the company’s stock. Henry didn’t feel retired he liked to direct and give recommendations to Edsel about company market strategy. He also enjoyed creating a tractor he named the Fordson (thank goodness it wasn’t named Model Z). He apparently published a journal of sort called the Dearborn Independent.
Buy Outs and Greater Expansion
By the end of World War I Ford Motor Corporation was looking to expand and integrate many of its assembly plants; consolidating resources, lowering waste, and shipping prices. There was some disagreement with the other share holders and both Henry and Edsel decided to solve the situation with money. Again Henry found himself buying stock from his investors to further the vision he had passed on to his son. The multi-million dollar facility had an integrated steel mill of what was then considered to be of substantial capacity. The plant was named the River Rouge facility.
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