Not many businesses have had a similar impact on the world as a certain motor company that was begun on the 16th June 1903. Henry Ford and 11 business associates signed an agreement that would lead them to become one of the largest corporations in the world. With this agreement and $28,000 in cash, the foundations were laid for the Ford Motor Company, a company that would go on to change the lives of millions of people all over the world.
Henry Ford quickly realised that the company's future depended on mass-produced vehicles at affordable prices and he achieved this with the first production line for cars. This was achieved in 1913, five years after the launch of the now world-famous Model T Ford. Up to this point, car manufacturers moved the workforce around the plant to complete various stages of manufacture. However Henry Ford came up with a solution that is still used today, where the vehicle is moved through each stage of the manufacturing process and workers just repeat the same task over and over, allowing each individual worker to become far more efficient, and in becoming so, much faster. Incredible success followed and nineteen years after the launch of the Model T, Ford had sold an amazing 15 million units.
Ford soon realised it was losing sales to GM and Chrysler as they had vehicles that spanned many niches, from the cheap end of the market right through to luxury cars. People could stay loyal to these brands by upgrading their vehicles as they became more affluent, so in 1925 the Ford Motor Company bought out the Lincoln Motor Company and Ford were then able to offer luxury vehicles as well as vehicles for the lower end market. Other acquisitions were made and in 1938 Ford added the Mercury brand to their growing lineup, giving them a foothold in the mid-range market place and now customers could stay loyal to the brand no matter what their personal circumstances were.
With the event of the Second World War, Ford's production methods were used to bolster the war effort and nowhere was this illustrated better than in the production of the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Before Ford began manufacturing the bomber, production was limited to just one aircraft per day and that was assuming everything went to plan. Ford's Willow Run factory however when running at peak production, could manufacture one B-24 per hour, twenty-four hours a day, taking production from thirty units per month to over 600 units per month.
Two years after the end of the war Henry Ford sadly passed away and it is estimated more than seven million people mourned his death worldwide. His eldest grandson, Henry Ford II who was made president of the Ford Motor Company in 1945, would head the company for the next fifteen years and would oversee the company becoming a publicly traded corporation in 1956.
Ford has made various other acquisitions over the years including Jaguar and Land Rover in the UK, Volvo and a one third controlling interest in Mazda, however not all these buyouts have increased the profit for the company and in 2006, Ford took the decision to mortgage everything it owned, not only its property portfolio but also its intellectual rights and its stakes in its subsidiaries. In total this equated to over 23 billion dollars, these monies are to be used to restructure the company and to develop a new product range through to 2009 and Ford expect this to cost in the region of 17 billion dollars.
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