Henry Ford was a legendary American entrepreneur and industrialist. As of 2013, his total net worth reached $199 billion, making him part of the list of the wealthiest businessmen in the United States.
Ford is best known for founding the very famous Ford Motor Company. But contrary to popular belief, Henry Ford was not the one who invented the automobile. Instead, he can be credited for being instrumental in creating the first automobile that the American middle-class can afford. It means that he could change the automobile industry from being exclusive to its elite by making it accessible to a larger market.
As the owner of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford earned the reputation of being one of the richest individuals in history.
Henry Ford’s humble beginnings began in a farm located in Michigan’s Springwells Township, where he was born on July 30, 1863. His father, William Ford, hailed from County Cork, Ireland, while his mother, Mary Litogot, was born in Michigan. Henry has four siblings, namely Margaret, Jane, William, and Robert.
In 1879, Ford decided to leave their home to start working as a novice machinist for Detroit companies. He initially worked with a company named James F. Flower & Brothers., then transferred to Detroit Dry Dock Company. In 1882, Ford went back to Dearborn to start working on the family-owned farm. While on the farm, he started gaining further experience in using the portable steam engine of Westinghouse. Ford’s experience working in these companies allowed him to get a job at Westinghouse to maintain their steam engine. He also took that time to study a bookkeeping course at the Goldsmith, Bryant & Stratton Business College in Detroit.
Ford was married to Clara Jane Bryant, a lady born in Wayne County, Michigan, on April 11, 1988. He made ends meet for their family by farming and managing a sawmill before starting the legendary Ford Motor Company in June 1903. The couple had a son, Edsel Ford, born in 1893.
Henry groomed Edsel to take over the management of the Ford Motor Company, but the young Ford passed away due to cancer on May 26, 1943. Despite his old age, Henry opted to return to the helm of the company. He was almost 80 years old during that time and dealt with several health issues like heart attacks and strokes. Still, he stayed in the company until he was able to turn over the responsibilities to his grandson, Henry II, in September 1945.
Aside from his wealth, Ford was also known for pioneering the five-dollar wage labor philosophy. He came up with this practice to help improve his workers’ condition and lessen the constant turnover in most of the company’s departments regularly.
At the age of 83 on April 7, 1946, he passed away at Fair Lane, his estate in Dearborn.
The Ford Motor Company ranked 12th overall American company in the 2019 Fortune 500 list. It also has a strong presence in the global automotive industry. The company has a total revenue of $160.3 billion. Henry’s great-grandson William Clay Ford Jr. serves as the company’s current executive chairman.