In fact, the Ford Motor Company's official published mission statement has changed over the past few years, which is not surprising since the U.S. auto industry has changed dramatically in the past decade. Today Ford refers to its mission statement as its vision, which is powerful in its simplicity: "People working together as a lean, global enterprise to make people’s lives better through automotive and mobility leadership."
As the inventor of the moving assembly line, Henry Ford was definitely in alignment with the "working together" and "lean" parts of today's Ford Motor Company mission. And since Ford had a plant in Canada even before the Model T was released to the public, he would agree with Ford's "global enterprise" today.
It's unlikely that Henry Ford had any idea how much he would "make people's lives better," but in retrospect, it's undeniable that the Ford Motor Company has done just that. It's likely that Ford, the man, would be pleased that today's Ford, the company, will continue to do so.
In fact, since the beginning of Ford Motor Company, all CEOs have been direct descendants of Henry Ford, himself. It is the Ford heirs who are ensuring that Henry Ford's vision and philosophy lives on.
Early Life Influenced the Company Ford Founded
On July 30, 1863, Henry Ford was born to William and Mary Ford. William Ford was prosperous and well-liked in the community, and as such Henry grew up in a very positive environment.
In retrospect, it's clear that Henry Ford was born to be an innovator, an entrepreneur, and a leader. He demonstrated a natural engineering curiosity as a child when, instead of playing with wind-up toys, he would take them apart to see how they worked. This later led Ford to teach himself how to fix watches by taking working watches apart and studying them.
Young Henry Ford also demonstrated his natural leadership ability when he organized a group of boys to build waterwheels and some very basic steam engines. Ford's own first experiment building a steam engine resulted in an explosion, boiling water, and an angry mother scolding.
A subsequent steam engine design burned down his school's fence. Persisting with a vision despite setbacks and failures proved that young Henry Ford had the heart of an innovator.
Ford's entrepreneurial spirit first emerged when at the age of 19 he operated and serviced portable steam engines. He also ran an income-producing small business by cutting and selling timber from his father's land.
Henry's innovative spirit emerged in full force while he was working as an engineer at the Edison Electric Illuminating Company in Detroit, MI. Outside of work, he and a small group of friends and colleagues worked on creating a "horseless carriage." Ford and friends produced a primitive automobile in 1896 and a more sophisticated model in 1898.
When Henry was only 16, his mother passed away and Henry left home to be a mechanic's apprentice in Detroit. That set him up to return home and earn a living operating and repairing farming machinery made by the Westinghouse Company.
Next Henry took a position at the Edison Illumination Company as a nighttime operating engineer that paid $40 a week. It didn’t take Henry long to move up in the ranks of Edison Illumination Company, and soon he was working on the steam engines instead of just operating them.
In December 1893 Henry created his first gasoline engine in his rental home’s kitchen. His wife was the witness that he got the engine to run, and the story goes that she got drenched in gasoline during that trial run of Henry's latest invention.
After creating two of his own operating vehicles Henry went to work at the new Detroit Motor Company as the superintendent. Ford worked there for just one year. In 1901 Ford started the Ford Motor Company, at the age of 38.
Although it is often misquoted and misunderstood, Henry Ford was not the first man to invent the gas-powered automobile. On January 29, 1886, two men who had never met filed patents in two different German cities at the same time. They were Karl Friedrich Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, who later partnered together to start the Mercedez-Benz company.
Henry Ford was also not the inventor of the manufacturing assembly line. But Henry is credited with being the inventor of the moving assembly line. He got the idea for a moving assembly line after some of his factory workers got the idea while visiting a Swift & Co. meatpacking plant.
Philosophies and Quotable Quotes
More about the ideas, ideals, philosophies, and beliefs of Henry Ford can be gleaned from some of his more quotable quotes:
- “A bore is a person who opens his mouth and puts his feats in it.”
- “Exercise is bunk. If you are healthy, you don't need it: if you are sick you should not take it.”
- “Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.”
- “History is more or less bunk.”
- “I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about.”
- “I cannot discover that anyone knows enough to say definitely what is and what is not possible.”
- “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
- “Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
- “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do.”
- “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them.”
- “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.”
- “The only real security that a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
- “There are no big problems; there are just a lot of little problems.”