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Henry Ford: Revolutionizing the 1920s
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” –Henry Ford. Henry Ford took these words to heart when he started his automobile empire. When he first started out, he was barely getting by, but through innovation and inventive thinking, Henry Ford became rich and famous selling cars. Without a doubt, Henry Ford is the most important innovator of the 1920’s. Through his genius engineering techniques and luck he rose to fame and power. Through his interesting friendships with former presidents and other innovators, such as Firestone and Edison, Ford learned techniques that made his product stand out much more than his competitors. His engineering used all the things he had learned throughout his life. He applied his knowledge in the automobile industry to create cars that were borderline works of art, yet affordable to the average man. A few specific examples set Henry Ford far above the rest. The first example is that Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry. Secondly, Ford took everything he had learned in his life and applied it to the auto industry. Finally, Ford had powerful connections in the industry. Through these three things, Henry Ford was able to climb the ladder of success, beating the odds and making his company a household name.
First of all, Ford revolutionized the auto industry. Before Ford, only the ultra wealthy could afford cars. Most people think that Ford invented the automobile, but it was actually invented by Karl Benz. His company, Mercedes-Benz (Daimler-Benz at the time), crafted some of the finest automobiles in the industry. The main flaw with Benz’s cars was the price. The average man could never afford a car. Then game changers such as Henry Ford came along and revolutionized the auto industry. All cars beforehand had been completely handmade. At the start, Ford was the same. His cars were expensive and were a luxury that was out of the reach of the masses. Once he implemented an assembly line, business boomed and Ford became a household name overnight. Ford was also involved in auto racing. He set a speed record on ice himself in 1904. Although, it stood for only around a month, that was more than enough time to gain publicity.
Secondly, Ford applied everything he had learned in his life to the auto industry.”Ford was the son of a prosperous farmer who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps” (Meryl 2). When he was a young boy, his love for engineering and automobiles showed when he built a car in his garage he had converted to a workshop. In fact, he loved working on his prototype car so much that his boss at the time, Thomas Edison, of the Edison Illuminating Company, faced him with an ultimatum. “His resulting two-cylinder vehicle mounted on bicycle wheels so absorbed Ford’s energies that Edison forced him to choose one or the other” (Meryl 2). It’s quite obvious which one he chose. Once he started up his own company, Ford had visited a watch making factory and was observing the assembly line machines that they used to create watches. Ford’s reasoning was if these machines could create watches, why couldn’t they be used in a larger scale factory to make cars? Ford did just that. Through the use of conveyor belts and his assembly line, labor costs went way down. Using his new machines, he could manufacture cars that were at a realistic price point that allowed the common man to have the luxury of an automobile.
Finally, Ford had powerful connections in the industry. Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel, and Charles Lindbergh all became very good friends. They all went on camping trips together and each brought something to the table in terms of teaching each other new things. Sometimes even president Warren G. Harding came on the camping trips with them. The closest of the group were undoubtedly Ford and Edison. They had houses in Fort Myers, Florida right next to each other because Florida was one of the only places in America that Edison could grow bamboo. He needed bamboo to create a replacement filament for his light bulb. Ford and Edison did everything together, they were basically inseparable. “When Edison's doctors ordered him into a wheelchair in the last years of his life, Ford, still brisk and active, bought one too so they could race around the grounds together” (Zacharias 1). They had a lot of good times together, and it truly was “a friendship of giants” (Zacharias 1).
In conclusion, there is absolutely no doubt that Henry Ford was the most important innovator of the ‘20s. Through his series of innovative techniques, he was able to revolutionize the auto industry. Through revolutionizing the auto industry, applying his life’s knowledge to his workplace, and having powerful connections, Ford was able to create a legacy of success and prosperity for himself, and his work has brought happiness to everyone who owns a Ford. Although he has been dead for many years, Henry Ford continues to live on forever through his cars. He really was an innovator, to the fullest meaning of the word.
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