Small Business Success Stories: Part 5
This week we’ll be exploring the success of one of America’s most prominent businessmen.
“I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be so low in price that no man will be unable to own one.” – Henry Ford
When Henry Ford started his car company, Ford Motor Co. in 1903, vehicles were only enjoyed by a few of the most wealthy. His vision was so powerful and he was so determined to make it happen, that in his professional life he not only made his ideas come true, his vision for mass production changed the country and started an industrial revolution.
Henry Ford was a smart kid from an early age. He was fascinated by the way electronics worked and was curious enough to take things apart, like watches, and successfully put them back together in working order. He moved from his parent’s farm and got a job doing things that interested him – servicing steam engines and other types of machines.
After he got married he became an engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company and in two short years rose to chief engineer. While he was on call 24 hours a day here, he spent the extra time he had working on his first car – a simple metal frame with bicycle wheels and a four horsepower gas engine.
Ford managed to sell that little vehicle and used the money to continue building more and improve his design. Key: he was always looking for ways to improve his product. Over the next seven years, investors became interested and formed a company with him, but his continuous need to improve frustrated investors and Ford left to start Ford Motor Company. This company he left later became Cadillac Motor Car Company.
When his first car came on the market (the Model T, or “Tin Lizzie”), it was an instant success and the company had more orders than their workers could hand assemble. This is what sparked Ford to work on automation and mass production including the moving assembly line.
In 1914, Ford was one of the first to give his factory workers a decent daily pay ($5 for 8 hours, up from $2.34 for 9 hours) so the best people he had would be encouraged to stay with the company. According to an inflation calculator, $5 per day would be equivalent to about $122 today.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford