7 American Industries That Owe Their Success To Henry Ford

With Model T mass-produced and made affordable thanks to Henry Ford’s assembly line based auto manufacturing, America’s upcoming drivers weren’t the only ones to benefit.  Like today, the automotive manufacturing industry is interrelated to a number of other manufacturers.  Some argue that this was one major reason that the 2008-2009 auto bailouts were so necessary to the country’s overall economy.

FileFord assembly line - 1913jpg

How can this argument be made?  There are a lot more people who depend upon the success of the auto industry than just the individuals making and selling cars. It’s true today and it was true since the birth of the affordable, mass-produced automobile. So what other manufacturers got a lasting boost from our country’s first automotive manufacturing boom?

1. Machine and Tool Industries
With the development of the assembly line came the widespread use of tools and machines that helped workers product products with speed and uniformity.  Although machine and tool integration had existed since the late 1700s,  Ford’s assembly line created new and accelerated demand for tools and machines.  As automobiles became more and more popular, so too did the need for machines and tools to help produce them.

2. Steel Mills And Manufacturers
FileArthur Siegel Great Lakes Steel Detroit Michigan 1942jpg

American steel built the American automobile.  Not only was steel needed to create the chassis and engine parts that comprised the Model T, it was used to build the tools and machines needed to construct these parts, as well as the stations and structures that housed the process.

3. Paint and Chemical Manufacturers
FileTule Lake Relocation Center Newell California A view in the paint shop in the garage at this Re    - NARA - 536732jpg

As Ford wrote in his autobiography, “Any customer can have a car painted in any color that he wants so long as it is black.” While there wasn’t anywhere near the car color selection that’s you’d find today, the first Model Ts needed paint, coating and other treatments, and that created new opportunities for paint and chemical manufacturing.  As cars soon became available in colors besides black, grey, blue and red, so too was there an increase in demand for the workers, machinery and ingredients that were needed to produce the many types of paint that coated and covered the many parts of the Model T.

4. Battery, Electronic and Gear Component Producers
The Model T’s ignition system required a  starter battery,   AC alternator and electric lighting.  It also had a two-speed planetary gear transmission. These automotive essentials had to be developed, built and improved as more drivers and their families purchased and took to new roads spreading across the country. That meant the manufacture of individual components and assemblies to turn gears and produce power that would start and keep the Model T humming.

5. Upholstery and Textiles
Cotton and Kevlar producers were needed for the creation of the Model T’s linings. In addition to this, the bench seats of the Model T were upholstered from leather.  Leather tanners, textile mills and other material producers welcomed the new demand.

6. Advertisers
FileDetroit Eletric ad 1912jpg

With the Model T came one of the first massive automotive marketing campaigns that called on newspapers writers, advertisers, the efforts of Ford’s local dealers and growing motor clubs throughout the country.  One of the Model T’s first mass marketed demographics was farmers and rural families, and advertisements were produced and spread accordingly.  Since then the automotive industry has given birth to advertising meant to sell not only cars, but insurance, fuel and maintenance services, leisure driving destinations and just about everything the American driver could need, want and dream about.

7. Civil Engineering And Construction
FileThe Ford building -- Jericho Turnpike Mineola Garden Cityjpg

Before the mass development and sale of the automobile, cities were designed for horse and carriages and various forms of mass transit.  With the advent of the middle class auto, cities and towns would take shape to accommodate them.  This required the work of civil engineers and builders.

Take-Aways

  • The strength of the American automotive industry plays a big impact on many other industries, from print advertisements to textile produces.
  • Henry Ford didn’t invent the assembly line, but his utilization of it changed manufacturing as we know it.
  • Making the automobile affordable changed the landscape of America and how the average American worked and lived.

Article Sources:
http://www.history.com
http://www.history.com
http://en.wikipedia.org
http://www.youtube.com
http://www.youtube.com/

James Spader
 

Comes from a long line of American manufacturers and small business owners. His passions have always been journalism and World War II history. When not working, he enjoys cooking and competing in amateur chess tournaments.

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John

Speaking of industrial revolutions, let’s say that if a Western Rip Van Winkle had fallen asleep in 1869 and awakened in 1896, he would not have recognized the lands that the railroads had touched. Bison had yielded to cattle; Great swaths of land that had once whispered grass now screamed corn and wheat. Nation-states had conquered Indian peoples, slaughtering some of them and confining and controlling most of them. A land that had once run largely north-south now ran east-west. Each change could have been traced back to the railroads.

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