Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Henry Ford, whose innovative ideas revolutionised transportation and brought mobility to the masses. So it’s a case of ‘Happy Birthday!’ for the 150th time…
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.
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