Industrialist, inventor. Born July 30, 1863 in Dearborn, Michigan, into a farming family. The first child of William and Mary Ford, he was taught largely by his mother, who instilled in him a strong sense of responsibility, duty, and self-reliance. As a young man he became an excellent self-taught mechanic and machinist. At age 16 he left the farm and went to nearby Detroit, where he worked as an apprentice in a machine shop. Months later he began to work with steam engines at the Detroit Dry Dock Co., where he first saw the internal combustion engine, the kind of engine he would later use to make his automobiles.
When he was 28 Ford took a job with Thomas Edison’s Detroit Illuminating Company, where he became chief engineer. In his spare time he began to build his first car. In 1903 Ford launched his own car company, the Ford Motor Car Company, and by January 1904 he had sold 658 vehicles. By 1908 he built the famous Model T, a car that was affordable to the middle class. Sales of the Model T increased to 720,000 by 1916.
Ford was able to make a reliable and inexpensive automobile primarily because of his introduction of the innovative moving assembly line into the process of industrial manufacturing. The assembly line was undoubtedly Ford’s greatest contribution to industry. It revolutionized manufacturing and made it possible to make uniform products quickly and affordably.
Driven by his childhood sense of duty and obligation, Ford was also an active philanthropist throughout his life. He built a hospital for his employees in Detroit, and in 1936 established the Ford Foundation for the purposes of “advancing human welfare.” The foundation makes grants through its headquarters and ten international field offices. For fiscal year 2014, it reported assets of US$12.4 billion and approved US$507.9 million in grants. The grants support projects that focus on reducing poverty and injustice; promoting democratic values; and advancing human knowledge, creativity and achievement.
Ford died at his estate, Fairlane, in Dearborn, Michigan in 1947 at the age of 84.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.”
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.”
“There isn’t a person anywhere that isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can.”
“You can’t build your reputation on what you’re going to do.”
“An airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”
“The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed .”
“Life is a series of experience, each of which makes us bigger even though it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and griefs which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”
“Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”
“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man can have is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.”
“Don’t find a fault. Find a remedy.”
“Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.”