Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford, whose innovative ideas revolutionized transportation and brought mobility to the masses. Henry Ford’s enduring impact is being recognized through events and declarations across the United States and around the world.
Celebrations at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn headquarters today are being complemented by a special proclamation by the state of Michigan declaring this “Henry Ford Day.” In Washington, D.C., hundreds downtown and on Capitol Hill will mark the day enjoying commemorative cupcakes delivered by a food truck – part of a mobile movement Henry Ford would support.
While today’s events mark the day of Henry Ford’s birth, they are just part of a yearlong celebration of the man and his achievements.
Appropriately, given Henry Ford’s global impact, the anniversary of his birth is being commemorated in countries around the world throughout 2013. Some of the events include:
Dealers in 21 Asia Pacific markets have launched Ford Heritage month, transforming showrooms into exhibitions on Ford’s rich history
Ford of Germany marked the occasion with a series of five road rallies that celebrated Ford’s numerous automotive breakthroughs over the last 110 years
More than 4,000 people attended community events held by Ford in Romania
In Great Britain, celebrations were capped by the reveal of a restored statue of Henry Ford at the company’s UK Tech Centre
In coming months, celebrations will continue with additional events across the United States, Europe and South America.
Contributions to a better world
Henry Ford’s introduction of the automobile into the mass market transformed agricultural economies in the United States and around the world into prosperous industrial and urban markets. Many historians credit him with creating a middle class in America. His high minimum wage – revolutionary at the time – set a precedent for fair distribution of company wealth that influenced later management practices. For a timeline on Henry Ford, click here.
Henry Ford initially struggled to get Ford Motor Company on solid financial footing, but broke through with the Model T. The iconic vehicle debuted in October 1908, opening a new era in America. More than 15 million Model T’s were built and sold as Ford Motor Company put the nation on wheels.
The innovative spirit of Henry Ford took root in many other forms after the success of the Model T, including:
Moving assembly line: In 1913 Henry Ford introduced the first moving assembly line for cars. Within 18 months, the amount of time needed to build a Model T was reduced from 12 ½ man-hours to 1 ½ man-hours, ushering in the modern auto industry
$5 work day: To reduce high turnover rates among workers, Henry Ford more than doubled their pay in 1914, from $2.34 for a nine-hour day to $5 for an eight-hour day
Vertical integration: To improve quality, Henry Ford sought to own, operate and coordinate all the resources needed to produce complete automobiles. This principle, known as vertical integration, was put into practice in 1927 with the Model A
“What my great-grandfather established, especially his legacy of innovation, continues to inspire our commitment to a strong business, great products and a better world,” said Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford. “We are putting unexpected levels of technology within reach of millions of people, accelerating the development of new products that customers want and value, and driving growth by creating jobs and bringing the freedom of mobility to the world.”
Spirit of innovation guides Ford today
Henry Ford’s spirit of innovation continues to guide Ford Motor Company today, reflected in a lineup of vehicles as diverse as the F-150 pickup, Mustang sports car and Fusion Hybrid sedan. It lives on in technologies such as Ford SYNC, the company’s in-vehicle infotainment system, and fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines. And it echoes through employees serving customers across six continents.
Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947, at 83. More than 50 years after his death, in 1999, Forbes magazine named him “Businessman of the Century,” and in 2012 a History Channel documentary highlighted him as one of “The Men Who Built America.”
“My great-grandfather’s vision was to improve people’s lives by making cars affordable for the average family,” said Bill Ford. “His vision to build cars that are reasonably priced, reliable and efficient still resonates and defines our vision today.”