Henry Ford Biography

by Herbert N Casson

Judging by results, Henry Ford is the most successful manufacturer in the world. He pays the highest wages. He makes the highest profits. He sells the cheapest goods.

Henry Ford is a complete answer to the silly Marxian theory that a capitalist can only make money by robbing his employees or the public.

Henry Ford robs nobody. He is not an exploiter of the proletariat.

He is a multi-millionaire, and every penny of his money is clean.

His enormous profits are only a part of what he saves the public; and he pays his workers far more than they could make if they were on their own.

Henry Ford is a capitalist, and he shows all capitalists a better way of getting rich.

He made his own success—he and his men together. He has no title. He would never accept one. He is not even a “Mr.” His friends call him Henry.

He was born on a small farm near Detroit in 1863. His father was an Irish emigrant.

At school Henry Ford was a sort of dunce. The teacher could do little with him.

Henry was fed up with school by the time he was fifteen, so he ran away and got a job in an engine-works. He started at $2.50 a week.

Several years later he returned to the farm, but the best thing he did while on the farm was to marry a neighbor’s daughter.

One evening, as he was reading a farm paper, he saw a picture of a new horseless carriage invented by a Frenchman. He was fascinated. That picture gripped him and changed the whole course of his life.

He neglected his farm and began to build a horseless carriage in his barn. He put an old engine on an old buggy and forthwith became the joke of the county.

There are several old men and women in the poorhouses of America who once had a grand time, laughing at Henry Ford.

Presently, against the advice of everybody, he left the farm and went to Detroit. He got a mechanic’s job at $150 a month, and at nights he worked on his horseless carriage.

He made one that had one cylinder—a rickety, wheezy, ridiculous thing. BUT IT MOVED.

He improved this absurd motor for eight long years. At last he built a good motor—so good that he won a race with it.

At one bound he and his motor became famous. He won other races. He even beat Barney Oldfleld, who was the best-known racer of those days.

Several friends lent him $15,000, and he started a small motor works. He secured the ablest managers. He paid them well and they organized his immense business.

He is a slim, athletic, sun-tanned man. He has not been spoiled by power and wealth. The last time I saw him, at his Detroit Works, he was showing his telephone girl how to operate her switchboard.

He is not a businessman in the usual sense. He is a mechanic—an inventor. He made his success by appreciating the principle of standardization.

We may scoff at him if we like—if we are foolish enough; but it seems to me that he is the one who has the joke on the rest of us.

Henry Ford knows how. He has solved his business problems. He has shown us the one right way to handle men and produce goods and make profits without making enemies.

It would be better for all of us if we STUDIED Ford more and scoffed at him less. The more I find out about him the more I am impressed with his ability and his sense.

What the world needs is more Henry Fords; that is the truth, whether we like it or not.

If we had 1,000 Fords, we would have high wages, high profits, low prices and no labor troubles. We would have peace and prosperity.

Take, for instance, Ford’s methods as an EMPLOYER. In this respect he is most peculiar. He has followed a most unusual course, and he has made a great success of it.

The fact is, that Henry Ford seems to regard himself as a LABOR LEADER rather than an employer.

He gives his men MORE than they ask.

He gives them better working conditions than they had ever thought of.

He watches over them and protects them.

He has made his men the best-paid and most contented workers the world has ever seen.

No labor leader has done as much for labor as Henry Ford has.

He has never called them out on strike. He has never made them pay dues. He has led them to success, not to failure.

In 1914 his workers were contented, but he suddenly DOUBLED their wages. As a result, in 1915 he made more net profit than he had ever made before.

He protects his workers from any injustice. He has 2,000 foremen, and not one of them can discharge a worker.

In 1919, out of over 50,000 workers, ONLY 118 were discharged.

There is a special staff of thirty men, who investigate all troubles between the foremen and the workers. A foreman who has frequent troubles with his men will soon be called into the manager’s office and told of the error of his ways.

Ford has nothing against unionism, but he outdoes it at every point. He regards unionism as a necessary protection against stupid or oppressive employers, but he is neither stupid nor oppressive.

There is nothing merciless nor ruthless in his factory. In fact, it is a most gentle and humane institution. It is more sympathetic and tenderhearted than most churches.

For instance, there are 400 workers in Ford’s who are ex-convicts. They were cast out as felons, but Ford has given them a chance. He has restored them to self-respect, and they are leading honest and happy lives.

There are 2,000 weak or crippled men in the Ford factory. They wear a button that says, “For light work only.”

One of Ford’s obstinate theories is that he must take his share of the crippled, the criminal and the blind. One of his most competent workers is a blind man.

He spares no expense to give his men the best conditions in the works. He has a special staff of 700 painters, window-washers, carpenters, etc., to keep everything clean and bright. The shop floor is as clean as the floor of a kitchen.

The air is changed every twelve minutes. All the smoke and gas in the foundry is carried off. There are no cold nor overheated rooms.

As to “speeding up,” John R. Commons lately visited the Ford factory; and he reports that he saw no speeding up, “except in some parts of the foundry, among the new workers.”

He has moved his whole business high above strikes and lockouts.

He has stopped the war between the workers and the management. He has established peace and goodwill.

He has shown every other employer what can be done.


Henry Ford Quotes