Having successfully launched a company once already, Henry Ford opened a new factory on July 20, 1903 using $28,000 in cash from a dozen investors. At the end of the day, the assembly house on Mack Avenue in Detroit, Michigan had produced the first of Ford Motor Company’s many cars – a development that would go on to revolutionize manufacturing in the decades to come.
The Henry Ford Company had come into existence almost two years before in November 1901, succeeded quickly at manufacturing cars and, after a dispute with his fellow owners, became Cadillac Motor Company when Ford left the following August. Determined to build something to match his vision, he cobbled together the resources to start the new organization with the help of John and Horace Dodge, who would go on to found their own car company in the years that followed.
On that first July day, teams of two to three men worked to piece together an automobile. Using parts from contractors elsewhere in the area, Ford decided to force the assembly line to evolve in the coming decade. The concept the company would become famous for, the owner ended up deciding the cars could be made faster and at lower cost by moving almost all of the parts manufacturing under one roof. As the idea began to take shape, production soared. The car could now be made accessible to nearly anyone.
Over the next five decades, Ford Motor Company would speed to the front of the American car industry. Just five years after producing its first car, the Model T would come out – the first engine designed with a removable cylinder head. Safety glass made its way onto the Model A in 1930. More than a quarter-century later, Ford provided buyers with the option of front and rear seat belts, as well as a padded dash and childproof door locks.
As the 1900s came to a close, the organization began to find profit margins shrinking. With the economy slipping and operating costs rising, the automobile lending arm of the company became the most profitable. In the mid-2000s, the company announced plans to close down several product lines and lay off tens of thousands of workers. As the credit crisis loomed large at the end of the decade, Ford Motor Company began selling off properties it had acquired through the 1990s – chief among them Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. The only company of the Big Three to accept a loan package outside of the bailout from the American government, the company reported its first full-year profit in 2009, nearly half a decade since the last bit of good news it had for investors
With new fuel efficiency standards on the way, Ford Motor Company has made an effort to lead American manufacturers into the future by licensing technology and partnering with utility suppliers to improve infrastructure for electric cars. Despite having survived more than a century of change, the company still remains family-controlled, a fact Henry Ford would certainly be proud of.