Henry Ford-Innovator Extraordinaire

Henry Ford-Innovator Extraordinaire

Henry Ford's Vanadium Steel

As history so obviously points out, Henry Ford was an innovator extraordinaire. What made Ford successful as an innovator was his common sense approach to life and ability to simplify complicated issues. Additionally, Ford could look ahead to see the greater effects that his decisions and actions would generate.

After all, he was the person who single-handily revolutionized the automobile and many other industries by hiring blacks to work in his plants and doubling the salary and cutting hours from the workday of all of his employees. Ford saw the “cause and effect” of his actions. He knew that these benefits would improve the quality and quantity of the work his employees produced. He would also secure their loyalty in the ongoing battle against the unions. But perhaps most importantly, each of his employees could afford to buy one of his automobiles, driving up sales and profits exponentially. 

When Ford heard about a noted metallurgist from England—who was working on developing stronger and lighter steel—he immediately arranged several visits with the scientist. The tensile strength of Vanadium steel was three times greater than the steel currently used in Ford motorcars. Just as importantly as its greater strength, the Vanadium steel was significantly lighter and easier to machine than traditional steel.

Ford immediately saw the possibilities; a lighter more durable automobile, cheaper to build and more importantly, much less expensive for the consumer. The lower price meant that consumers would buy many more autos, driving up profits.

Over the next four years the Ford Motor Company developed the 1908 Model T. The auto was marketed heavily as a lighter auto—strong enough to travel any road in America—large enough to accommodate a large family and priced affordably enough for an individual to operate. Over 15,000,000 Model T’s were sold from Ford plants all over the nation.

The Model T automobile was conceived, designed and built directly from the qualities provided by Vanadium steel.