Sample Biography On The Early Years
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Biography of Henry Ford
Henry Ford is an entrepreneur and inventor driven by an idea to make cars more affordable to average people. He was the one who was standing on the edge of great industrial and social changes, since through introduction of low-priced car models based on mass production methods he facilitated emergence of a middle class. Despite his complicated personality, Henry was admired by many, since he succeeded thanks to his hard work, creative thinking and all his inventions were made for people’s good (Lewis, 1987, p. 11).
This automobile manufacturer was born was born on July 30, 1863 in a rural area in a close proximity to Dearborn, Michigan. Even though he was brought up in a farmer’s family, young Henry was never excited about farming. He was much more interested in mechanics, which gave him an opportunity to learn how things around us work and hat is put inside of them. In his book “My life and work” Henry Ford recalls that the most turning points that took place in his life, shaped his interest in engineering and mechanics and defined his biggest life-long passion were the meeting with engine and getting a watch. The first introduced him to the unique not a horse-drawn vehicle and he believed that this invention had very promising future. Once he got a watch a focused not only on learning the principle of its work, but also managed to take it apart and then put all details together, so by fifteen he was able to repair almost any watch (Batchelor, 1994, p.13; Ford & Crowther, 2011).
Time passed, he learned much more about mechanics and was negatively surprised when he observed and analyzed the process of work on an average farm. Henry noticed that many human efforts are put in fulfilling farmer’s everyday responsibilities and how ineffectively work was organized. According to Ford and Crowther (2011) famous industrialist stated: “The farmer makes too complex an affair out of his daily work. I believe that the average farmer puts to a really useful purpose only about 5 per cent of the energy that he spends” (p.10).Moreover, he identified essential problem –farmers’ reluctance to spend money on machinery. However, he figured out that unwillingness to invest money into improvements, whereas such careless approach leads to wasting all the resources, unreasonable increase in need of human force and consequently to high prices of food and low profits (Ford & Crowther, 2011, p.10).
At the age of 16 Ford resolved to leave a family home to develop professional skills, so he took an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit and got a part-time job repairing watches in a store. Few years later young machinist returned to the farm and married Clara Bryant. After three years of marriage they moved together to Detroit, so Ford could not give up on his dream and make a first big step in his career – to take engineering position in Edison Illuminating Company.
Corporate Management & Personal Vision
The biggest professional achievement of Henry Ford, his world-famous Ford Motor Company was incorporated on June 16, 1903. At the time when everyone believed in expensive cars, suggesting that they are the way to succeed and make high profits, Ford adhere to completely opposed point of view. He envisioned that by selling cheaper cars, but to many average people (clerks, farmers, etc.) company will have much better financial results than by selling expensive cars to a few wealthy customers. Moreover, he had a clear vision on how to create a market for his product. Henry Ford was well-known employer who paid $5 per day that was twice as much as an average industrialist. Although he valued people’s work and viewed it as a main productive force, he decided to pay workers enough money, so they can purchase cars they produce. Ford was among the first to realize that mass production depends on mass consumption (Gallagher, 2014; Wik, 1973, p.6).
However, relationships with investors were never smooth. Every venture started by Ford had innovative spirit and was driven by his vision to introduce cheap cars to the mass market. This aspiration rarely found support among bakers, who were mostly avid and had limiter understanding of car industry and market opportunities. Therefore, Ford’s first attempts in an automobile business ended up to be a failure (Batchelor, 1994, p.19).
Management Philosophy & Practices
Henry ford designed a new type of industrial production system, which originated from the critical principles of Taylorism. Taylor and Ford supported and promoted the same ideas, stating that all waste should be minimized, an output has to be maximized, cost of product should gradually decrease. His management practiced concerned also social screening of workers inside and outside the firm and techniques of conflict elimination (Edgell, 2006, p. 115).
Company’s strategy, its mission and philosophy followed this idea and Ford had a clear plan how to organize the production in the most productive way to decrease a price of a car to make it maximally attractive on a mass market. First of all he emphasized that all cars should be absolutely identical, “just as one pin is like another pin when it comes from a pin factory, or one match like another match when it comes from a match factory” (Flink,1990, p. 43).
Thus, the company was able easily implement standard working processes, stages of assembly and fixed duration of each step to minimize the cost of a car. Ford admits that the most important part in making a product is not rushing into production stage. He criticized those who thought about improving a product once it is already created. As it stated in Ford & Crowther (2011) Ford was keen on constant modernization of processes and methods rather than essential change of products: “I believe that there is hardly a single operation in the making of our car that is the same as when we made our first car of the present model. That is why we make them so cheaply” (p.11-12).
Ford eagerly encouraged any experiments that could cut the cost of a car and there were many instances when employees correctly identified a gap or flaw in a production process, conducted research and brainstormed an idea on how to make all processes more effective.
Major Accomplishments & Failures
While working at Edison Illuminating Company Henry Ford hand-built and tested his first gasoline engine. This small, yet impressive finding created a foundation for developing the first car of Henry Ford. On one of spring days of 1896 this ambitious engineer drove his first hand-built vehicle named Quadricycle on a road next to his home in Detroit (Batchelor, 1994, p.18).
The day Ford Motor Company was started turned out to be one of the most significant days in all automobile industry that changed people’s life once and for all. Company’s first car was the Model A that was continuously improved and developed in different variations until it transformed into the Model N, which in became the best-selling car in the USA in 1907 with a price of $600. Despite impressive results Henry Ford felt that he had not yet achieved enough. Without a doubt the Model N was a cutting-edge innovation, but Fords primary goal was to offer a car affordable for everyone, so the latest developed model was still far from the perfection. Thus, he moved on and eventually came up with a design of the Model T, which was introduced on October 1, 1908. It was a life-changing innovation, both for Ford and consumers. It firmly stood out from everything ever offered on the market before: starting from the cylinders cast from a single metal block to the steering wheel which was placed on the left instead of the right. And the main advantage of this model was its extreme inexpensiveness which defined it success on a mass market (Batchelor, 1994, p.19-22).
Thanks to development of this low-cost enduring automobile and creation of moving assembly line, Ford Motor Company managed to produce way more cars than any other competitor, which made Henry Ford’s company the biggest in the industry. By 1919 Ford Motor Company was selling half cars produced in the States (Snow, 2013).
Taking into account everything mentioned, it would be hard to overrate the impact of Henry Ford and his company on automobile industry and our everyday life. Affordable cars opened a door to further mass market technical innovations and made it possible for everyone to make long-trips substantially shorter, much more enjoyable and progressive. Instead of giving people faster horse they wanted, Henry Ford used his creativity to come up with something brand new, while his scientific approach towards business defined success of his invention. There would be no low-price cars without the assembly line, the cost minimization techniques, optimization of processes that underlies scientific management theory. When the Model T flooded American market, many predicted that soon people will have no need to walk at all. Even though Ford was not the one who invented mass production, he was the one who significantly improved, connected with mass consumption and made it a foundation of successful business (Wik, 1973, p.5-6).
Batchelor, R. (1994). Henry Ford, mass production, modernism, and design. Manchester: Manchester University Press
Edgell, S. (2006). The sociology of work. London: SAGE.
Flink, J. (1990). The automobile age. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Ford, H., & Crowther, S. (2011). My life and work. [No location]: Fintan books.
Gallagher, J. (2014). 100 years later, Henry Ford's $5 day credited with changing U.S. culture, creating modern Detroit. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from: http://archive.freep.com/article/20140105/BUSINESS06/301050040/Henry-Ford-5-day
Lewis, D. (1987). The public image of Henry Ford. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
Snow, R. (2013). The wonderful, horrible life of Henry Ford. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/14/the-wonderful-horrible-life-of-henry-ford.html
Wik, R. (1973). Henry Ford and grass-roots America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
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