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Henry Ford

Henry Ford
  • The triumph of an idea; the story of Hen... (by )
  • My Life and Work (by )
  • What Henry Ford Is Doing (by )
  • Henry Ford's Own Story (by )
  • The Truth about Henry Ford (by )
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After building the Quadricycle,the first gasoline-powered horseless carriage, American business tycoon and industrialist Henry Ford achieved many more accomplishments. In 1903, he founded the Ford Motor Company. One month later, the first Ford car Model A was assembled at a plant in Detroit.

In The Truth About Henry Ford, Sarah T. Bushnell writes:

By January 1903, the first commercial car was sold, and soon orders began to come in faster than they could be filled. One hundred and sixty-five cars were sold that year. A large factory, located on Piquette street, was secured and the work went forward rapidly. (p. 58)

Several years later, Ford revolutionized transportation and the manufacturing process when he rolled out the Model T. To meet demand, he developed the moving assembly line, which is part of the mass production process. It became the standard worldwide. 

Although Ford didn’t invent the automobile, he made it widely accessible to middle class Americans. Mass production significantly cut production time, which enabled costs to remain low. In 1914, Ford boosted the daily wage for his workers, establishing another standard for the industry.

In The Truth About Henry Ford, Bushnell writes:

The real test of a man’s popularity is in his home neighborhood, where he is best known. Mr. Ford is remarkably popular in Detroit; the mention of his name brings enthusiastic applause and his appearance at a large gathering has, on more than one occasion brought the throng to its feet cheering. Mere money could not do this. His popularity is founded on the fact that he is recognized as a friend of the common people—and that gives him a tremendous personal following throughout the country. (p. 70)
Ford’s many successes are known worldwide, but many aren’t familiar with Fordlandia, one of his few failures. In the 1920s, this visionary set out to establish his own supply of cultivated rubber to fuel the continual demand needed for tires and other car parts. In 1928, he opened a commercial rubber plantation and industrial town in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. It was dubbed Fordlandia.

Soon after the reconstruction of the factories, he made one of his largest investments in entering the Brazil rubber field, purchasing vast tracts, and instituting an experiment of indefinite magnitude for the purpose of providing a rubber supply independent of European and Asiatic markets. (p. 109)

Fordlandia failed for many reasons. Ford failed to consult an expert and wasn’t aware that plantation rubber couldn’t grow in the Amazon. Although he yearned to improve life for the Brazilians who lived and worked on the plantations, Ford failed to understand the native culture. 

He established an American-style town and instituted an American work schedule, replaced their wait-service with cafeteria-style service, and even swapped the Brazilian diet for an American one.  Soon workers rebelled and rioted, and the plant was abandoned in 1934. For more, explore My Life and Work by Henry Ford. 

By Regina Molaro

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