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Happy Birthday, Dear Henry

Ford founder would be 150 today – but other big anniversaries are a year away.

by on Jul.30, 2013

The man and machine that changed the world. Henry Ford and the Model T.

He died much as he was born, by lamplight on the Fairlane Estate near the farm where he was raised. But much changed during his 83 years, and Henry Ford had a hand in much of that transformation.

His name can still be found on millions of automobiles produced in plants around the world, from Beijing to Britain and, of course, Detroit.  And while the assembly line concept he pioneered has gone through major updates it remains the heart of modern manufacturing. He was a global visionary and an advocate for peace who also helped supply the American military machine through two world wars.

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Henry Ford might have helped put America on wheels and helped make modern consumerism possible, but he also tinkered with social engineering during an era when millions of Americans moved from farms to factories. Henry Ford’s grand goals were tarnished, in the eyes of many by his naiveté and anti-Semitism.

“Henry Ford was a very complex man and someone who was very contradictory in many ways,” says Bill Chapin, head of the Automotive Hall of Fame which is located near Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan and on the campus of the Henry Ford, a museum devoted to Americana and American ingenuity.


Remembrance: Philip Caldwell, the “Bean Counter” Behind One of Ford’s Best Products

The first Ford chairman without the family genes in his blood.

by on Jul.12, 2013

Former Ford Chairman and CEO Phil Caldwell passed away this week at 93.

To many of those in the Motor City, even a century after it was founded, the nation’s second’s largest automaker is still known as “Ford’s,” a reference to the family that founded it and to the men who have run it.

Indeed, Ford Motor Co. still has a family member at its helm, William Clay Ford Jr., the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford. But day-to-day operations are in the hands of an outsider, Alan Mulally, who has proved himself one of the most capable senior managers in the company’s history.  And for that, both Mulally and shareholders might want to offer a little thanks to 93-year-old Philip Caldwell, who died this week nearly 28 years after retiring from Ford Motor Co. as its very first chairman and chief executive not to carry the Ford family genes.

“Philip Caldwell had a remarkable impact at Ford Motor Company over a span of more than 30 years,” said Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company. “Serving as CEO and later as Chairman of the Board of Directors, he helped guide the company through a difficult turnaround in the 1980s and drove the introductions of ground-breaking products around the globe. His dedication and relentless passion for quality always will be hallmarks of his legacy at Ford. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

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Caldwell became Ford president in 1978 and the chairman and CEO in 1980 following the sudden retirement of Henry Ford II, the grandson and namesake of company founder Henry Ford — but only after the equally unexpected ouster of Lee Iacocca, long the heir-apparent.