Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company is an American automobile manufacturer with its  headquarters located in Dearborn, Michigan. It was founded by Henry Ford at 39 years old and incorporated on June 16, 1903. It is described by Forbes as “the most important industrial company in the history of the United States.” Ford would go on to become one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies and is one of the largest family-controlled companies in the world.

Henry Ford made an attempt at an automobile company in November, 1901 under the Name Henry Ford Company, but became the Cadillac Motor Company on August 22, 1902. Ford started The Ford Motor Company in 1903 with $28,000 from twelve investors. During the first few years only a few cars per day were produced by groups of three, initially using parts supplied from contractors. Within ten years Ford would begin to manufacture most of their parts in-house.

Ford introduced elaborate methods of engineered manufacturing typically used in today’s assembly lines. The first assembly line was introduced in 1913, and by 1914 this practice was known as Fordism. Jaguar and Land Rover, acquired in 1989 and 2000 respectively, were sold to Tata Motors in March 2008. Ford also owned the Swedish automaker Volvo from 1999 to 2010. In 2011, Ford owned  Mercury brand automobiles, were discontinued. They had been marketed in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East since 1938.

In 2008, Ford employed about 213,000 employees at approximately 90 plants and facilities worldwide selling 5.532 million automobiles. At the end of 2010, based on sales, Ford was the second largest automaker in the US and fifth in the world.

Ford was first in many innovative techniques, by introducing the first engine with a removable cylinder head in 1908. In 1930, the first car with safety glass in the windshield was produced and Ford launched the first low priced V8 engine powered car in 1932.
In 1956 Ford produced the first vehicle with rear seat belts and an optional padded dash. Ford introduced child-proof door locks in 1957 and offered the first retractable hardtop on a mass-produced six-seater car.

Ford’s advertising slogan, “Have you driven a Ford, lately?” was first used in 1980. In 1990 Ford acquired Jaguar and in 1994 Aston Martin. In the turn of the century, Ford saw declining sales and lower profits, most of which came from financing consumer automobile loans through the Ford Motor Credit Company.

William Clay Ford Jr. (Bill), great-grandson of Henry Ford was appointed Executive Chairman in 1998, and became Chief Executive Officer of the company in 2001. In 2006 when the president of Ford Motor Company Jim Padilla retired, Bill also took over that job as well. Five months later Bill appointed Alan Mulally as President and CEO, but remained Executive Chairman.

Ford unveiled to the public on January 23, 2006, “The Way Forward”, a plan to regain profits which included resizing the company, dropping some unprofitable and inefficient models, consolidating production lines, closing 14 factories and cutting 30,000 jobs. Also in 2006, the company reported a loss of $12.7 billion and claimed that it would not see a profit again until 2009. In 2007 Ford had a $2.7 million loss despite having a $750 million profit for the second quarter. Ford also sold Jaguar that year.

In January 2009 Ford reported a $14.6 billion loss for 2008. By retaining sufficient liquidity through April 2009 it erased $9.9 billion in liabilities and ended the 2009 fiscal year with a $2.7 billion profit.

On November 1, 2012, Ford announced that CEO Alan Mulally will stay with the company until 2014. His previous seven year salary totaled $174 million  which generated discontent amongst workers.

Image Caption: Ford Motor Company’s Headquarters, Glass House, Dearborn, Michigan. Credit: Dave Parker/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)