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Henry Ford (1863-1947) is one of the most famous American industrialists. He is considered one of the pioneers of the automotive industry, having managed to make cars available to the general public. Ford's book "My Life, My Achievements" is considered a classic in the organization of labor, it was published even in the USSR back in 1924.
Ford's innovations have become an important part of the modern economic system. The biography of the famous businessman is widely known, however, there are many myths about Ford. Some misconceptions romanticize this character, making him a business genius, while others, on the contrary, flaunt his ambiguous actions.
Ford was a tough, but flamboyant character with controversial views and convictions. We will consider the main myths about a talented businessman, industrialist and organizer.
Henry Ford created (sold) the first car. This is one of the most common myths about Henry Ford. Many people associate his name with the dawn of the automotive industry. The first self-driving machine using the power of steam was created by Nicholas Joseph Cagnot back in 1769. He received the assignment for this development from the Minister of War of France. The country needed a practical vehicle for transporting artillery. And the first really car was created by the German inventor Karl Benz. His patent N37435 dated January 29, 1886 concerned precisely a device whose fuel was gasoline. The three-wheeled carriage had two seats. By the time Ford's company appeared in America, Daimler Motor Company had been selling such devices for 10 years. And the first commercially successful car in the country appeared thanks to Alexander Winton. Even the first mass-produced car in America was created by Ranson Olds. And Henry Ford was one of the most active distributors of cars, having managed to make them available to the public.
Henry Ford came up with the assembly line. This myth is also quite popular. However, the concept of an assembly line was introduced by Olds at his company in 1901. It was thanks to her that it was possible to develop mass production. The concept even received a patent. Parts and assemblies of the car were moved on special carts from one worker to another. But only in 1913 Henry Ford began to introduce the conveyor into his production. Back in 1903, he observed how the carcasses of animals, under the influence of their own gravity, fall under the knives of the separators. This helped to form my own idea, which helped to optimize production. At the same time, Ford's stream assembly was used for the first time for a technically complex structure. The Ford Model T was produced in just a couple of hours and cost $ 400.
Henry Ford raised workers' wages to $ 5 a day so they could buy his cars. Another popular myth claims that Ford deliberately raised wages for its workers. The industrialist allegedly understood that by creating a middle class, he was forming a community of future buyers of his product. In fact, the increase in wages to $ 5 a day in 1914 was intended primarily to reduce staff turnover. There was no concern for poor workers in this case. In 1913, Ford had to hire 52,000 people, although only 14,000 were required to complete the tasks. Assembling the machines was a tough job, which was the key to staff turnover. The businessman realized that it was easier to increase his salary than to look for and train new workers every time. A few years later, Ford took a diametrically opposite position. He, like other automakers, refused to raise workers' wages. And in the famous $ 5, half was a bonus, which still had to be earned by exemplary behavior, the absence of social vices. For example, recent migrants had to attend English courses in order to quickly adapt to the new environment. Women were not entitled to the bonus, unless they were single. Men were denied additional payments if their spouses worked elsewhere. There is no need to talk about additional demand for machines from workers either. The Ford factories employed 14 thousand people, and cars were sold annually at 170 thousand units. So it was not the workers who were the main buyers of the products.
Ford offered its Ford Model T in any color as long as it was black. This phrase became famous for giving birth to the concept of the classic car color. It was mentioned in his autobiography by Henry Ford himself. But the first four years of production of the famous black model were not included in the options at all. Blue, green, red or gray colors were available to the client depending on the bodywork. In 1910, the company introduced a new shade, Brewster Green (dark green). A dark blue version of the car soon appeared. It was only in 1913 that black was introduced. It turns out that it dries twice as fast as others. In a conveyor belt environment, this has become a valuable option. Painting cars in other colors meant either a slowdown in the process, or the need to maintain additional warehouses, which directly affected profits. So black turned out to be trite profitable, not stylish. And in 1916, Ford T sales skyrocketed, which is why, after four years, almost all cars were this color. When the public began to lose interest in the brand, they were again offered the entire palette to choose from. By the end of the production run in 1927, there were five color options for the Ford T, but it itself was already hopelessly outdated.
Henry Ford designed the legendary Ford T. Henry Ford went down in history as a great industrialist, not as an engineer. Behind such people are usually assistants who remain unknown to the general public. The Ford T was designed by Josef Galam, an expatriate from Hungary, and Charles Sorenson, an ethnic Dane. These individuals were close to Ford, playing an important role in the formation of his company. Sorenson was considered the right-hand man of the businessman, working for the company until the 1950s, while Galam is considered by many to be the true creator of the Ford assembly line.
Ford was so stingy that he even searched landfills for recyclable parts. For these purposes, the industrialist allegedly hired special agents. This story was invented by the zoologist Nicholas Humphrey, who published it as an anecdote in his newspaper in 1976. It was about the fact that Ford's assistants in the landfills were looking for parts that never broke. It turned out that nothing could be restored, except for the pins. In every Ford T scrapped, these parts looked brand new. The journalist said that Henry Ford, instead of pride in the quality of these products, ordered them to start saving on them, making them of inferior quality. This story seems to be invented to illustrate the theory of resource allocation efficiency by natural selection. However, the bike attracted the attention of writers, based on it, the myth of Ford's stinginess appeared.
Henry Ford was an exemplary husband. Henry Ford married at the age of 25, he did not drink, did not smoke, made his wife and son a co-owner of his business. But this is only an external idealized picture. Ford's road to success has been challenging. To marry Clara, Henry had to accept land from his father and promise to do farm work. The young American did not keep this oath and fled to the city. Clara had to live with a man who considered the main thing in his life not family, but work. Henry was always stingy with praise and compliments. It is good that his wife always supported him, having received the nickname "Believer" from her husband. But Clara had to wait for hours at the dinner table for her husband's return, which is why, according to rumors, she even fell in love with cold food. In winter, the woman had to hold a kerosene lamp over Henry's desk for hours, which affected the woman's health.
Ford was an exemplary father. Many biographers of Ford note that he loved to tinker with his son, went fishing with him, in letters he always called him "dear baby." And already at the age of 26, Edsel was appointed president of the Ford Motor Company. But the heir to the empire was not at all like his father. Edsel represented another generation, he liked art, charity. The father even called his son a "non-standard nut" and opposed his admission to the university. Edsel Henry Ford was forced to start working for his company. The father considered his son's personal hobbies nonsense, he called the leadership style slobbery, publicly canceling the decisions made. Henry Ford has repeatedly stated that the heir does not live up to his hopes. And when Edsel began to complain about his health, the "caring" father accused him of tearfulness and advised him to work harder. As a result, the younger Ford died of stomach cancer at the age of 49.
Ford took care of his workers. It has already been discussed what actually was behind the salary increase. To spy on the workers, the businessman hired foremen, who, in fact, were ordinary bandits. When sales fell, Ford did not hesitate to disband its employees. They could sit for six months without wages and work, waiting for changes in their fate. And in 1931, when the Great Depression affected the company of Ford himself, he immediately fired most of the workers. Then there was even a riot, as a result of which five people died. The newspapers directly wrote that it was Ford who caused the carnage. In addition, he was one of the most principled opponents of trade unions, sometimes even resorted to the services of organized crime to solve problems with employees. And even the moment came when Ford was ready to close his company, and not put up with the unions. The situation was resolved only by his wife Clara, who threatened to leave.
Ford adhered to the correct canonical outlook on life. Henry Ford was raised in a puritanical tradition. He considered work to be the only meaning in life. However, he did not trust anyone. Ford believed that honesty should be the foundation of work, but he saw the need to introduce strict control. The workers, in his eyes, had to turn into some kind of ideal people, due to the appropriate education. Ford factories were surrounded by a veil of mystery, what happened there was hidden from everyone. The foremen even visited the workers at home, checking how they spend their leisure time, what they eat and whether the family is friendly. Ford welcomed the denunciations. The workers even joked that they rented perfect wives to match their boss' ideals.
Henry Ford was a patriot of his country, supporting it in the world wars. At the beginning of the First World War, a businessman on the Oscar-2 ship with a group of pacifists went to Europe, calling for an end to the war. But Ford was cruelly ridiculed and had to return to his homeland. Only in 1917, after America entered the war, the Ford company accepted a military order. It produced helmets, gas masks, light tanks and even submarines. The businessman even announced that he would return all profits to the state. This created a patriotic image for Ford, but there is no evidence that he kept this promise. In the 1930s, Ford seriously supported the NSDAP financially, his portrait even hung in Hitler's residence. And in 1940, the Ford plant in the German-occupied French territory began to produce goods for the Wehrmacht. For this, Ford even received the highest award of the Third Reich for foreigners - the Order of Merit of the German Eagle. Thanks to the collaboration of the American with the Nazis, the confiscation of the plant was avoided.
Henry Ford was the pride of the country, thanks to him, among other things, it gained economic power. Do not underestimate the role of Ford in America's development. His enterprise produced a huge volume of products. It is no coincidence that various publications called Ford a man of the century and millennium. At the same time, the businessman showed himself as an outspoken anti-Semite. Ford argued that the world wars were staged by the Jews, they were also jazz and short skirts. Such views caused outrage both in America itself and in other countries. Ford even published his articles under the general title "International Jewry", in Russia this book is still considered extremist. The businessman was accused of an attack on American civil and democratic principles. He shamefully lost the case of libel against Jews, apologizing and paying a fine. With such a bad train, Ford could not be the pride of the country.
Henry Ford only created cars. Ford created more than just a car company. In 1925, his airline, Ford Airways, was born. At the same time, Ford acquired the William Stout firm and began to produce aircraft himself. The firstborn was the three-engine Ford 3-AT Air Pullman. And the most famous was the Ford Trimotor (Tin Goose) model. This all-metal three-engine monoplane was mass-produced in 1927-1933. In total, the company produced 199 such aircraft. They were in operation until 1989. Few people know that Henry Ford was a tireless inventor, having received 161 patents. It is no coincidence that Thomas Edison himself was his close friend. And Ford invented, among other things, coal briquettes for barbecues and barbecues, without which no family trip to nature can do today.