Henry Ford (1863-1947) was an American industrialist who created the automobile giant Ford Motor Company. However, from an economic perspective, Ford is a man especially distinguished for the creation of the mass production system.
Ford’s role in the modern automobile industry is undeniable, since it was able to understand the consumption needs of the general population while designing a production system that allowed it to lower costs.
Origins and early years of Henry Ford
Born into a humble family in 1863 on a farm in Greenfield, Michigan, Ford was stunned when he first saw a steam engine in 1873. All this would have a great impact on a boy who started out as a farmer and ended up being a famous businessman in the motor world.
His fascination with mechanics led him to make a living repairing watches, where he built a reputation for his great skill at work. After marrying Clara Bryant he returned to a rural setting. However, he would return to his passion for machines when he was hired as an engineer by the Edison company in 1891.
an innovative man
His upward trajectory as an engineer at the Edison company allowed him to have the time and sufficient financial resources to devote himself to his projects. In fact, compared to steam vehicles, Ford opted for gasoline vehicles. It was thus that in 1896 Ford created the first prototype car.
Despite being an innovative means of transportation, Ford would not achieve immediate success. And it is that Ford prioritized the improvement of its cars before marketing them. Hence, several of his investors abandoned him.
Ford would have to wait until the year 1903, when he founded the Ford Motor Company. The North American entrepreneur had a business idea in his mind: Create a car within the reach of the middle classes. It was a complex goal, because, at that time, only the wealthiest could buy a car.
So that the automobile could be adopted by society as the means of transport par excellence, Ford opted for a standardized model, which would meet the necessary quality and be sold at affordable prices. This is where the ever-reliable Ford-T came to be, a true milestone in automotive history and an affordable vehicle for the average American.
Producing a car in large quantities and at low cost was a challenge for an industrialist like Henry Ford. For this, it was essential to design a truly revolutionary production process.
It was then that Ford noticed the slaughterhouses, where each person dealt with a part of the cutting. In this way, Ford realized that he could transfer this system to the production of automobiles. Thus, his employees would only have to deal with a small part of the process, each of them achieving great skill and efficiency in a simple part of the production process.
As a consequence of this new production system, manufacturing time decreased while production costs fell. Thanks to this, it was possible to market the Ford-T at affordable prices for the general public. This would be the origin of the mass production system, whose production chains would characterize the so-called Fordism.
A successful car giant
The great acceptance of the Ford-T among American society boosted the American industrialist to success, making his car company the most important automobile company in the United States and one of the most powerful worldwide.
But Ford would not stop with his successful business model, but as an innovative entrepreneur, he continued his research, which allowed him to patent another 160 inventions.
From the point of view of philanthropy, Ford had his own foundation, which was in charge of projects aimed at guaranteeing the welfare of society.
In 1919, Henry Ford and his son, Esdel Ford, took over all of the company’s shares. For his part, Esdel assumed the presidency of the company after the retirement of his father, although, with Esdel’s death in 1943, Henry returned to take the reins of the Ford Motor Company between 1943 and 1945.
Finally, on April 7, 1947, Ford ended up dying in Dearborn, Michigan. However, the figure of Henry Ford remains in the history books as one of the most outstanding entrepreneurs of the 20th century and as the creator of the mass production system.