Posted By admin on August 30, 2010
When his Father, Edsel, the current president of Ford died of cancer in May 1943 HF II was unable to take over the reins of the family owned business due to his armed service commitment. His elderly, mentally frail and autocratic grandfather Henry Ford led the company. As the Henry Ford was the chief stockholder it was a natural decision for the Board of Directors to place him in this position. However, during this period the company was declining dramatically losing over $10 million a month. The money bleeding, which had been going on for several years, is said to have been a factor in accelerating the death of Edsel Ford. The situation for the company was not good.
The administration of President Franklin Roosevelt began to consider a government restructure of Ford as the country was dependent on the power of Ford for jobs and war munitions. Henry Ford II received a special dispensation from the government to return to take the power seat of Ford. He had received little if any training for the position, so at 25 years of age he was thrown into a chaotic situation. The crisis was international as European factories had been damaged and the future was in jeopardy. He proved to be an exceptional leader, first winning the confidence of his grandfather and then creating a “Whiz Kids” team of executives. He recognized and acknowledged his inexperience in different segments of the business and culled together a group of experts. Two of these super charged individuals were Robert McNamara and Arjay Miller both would go on to become future presidential advisors. He also chopped people from the staff. One prime example was the release of a stalwart employee, Harry Bennett, head of the Ford Service Department. His grandfather has placed Bennett in this trusted position in order to quell union attempts. HF II was beginning the climb to become one of the most respected businessmen in history.
Henry Ford was also known as “Hank the Deuce”. His strong sense of social responsibility, which he expressed publically since his earliest years in business, manifested itself in his positions as an alternate delegate to the United Nations under President Eisenhower in 1953 and as Chairman of the National Association for Businessmen under President Johnson in 1968.
During his lifetime he was married three times. His first wife was Anne McDonnell, second wife Christina Vettone Austin, and third wife, Kathleen DuRoss. He had three children Charlotte, Anne and Edsel Ford II.
Henry Ford died of pneumonia in Detroit at Henry Ford Hospital on September 29, 1987 at the age of 70. He is know for his strong natural executive abilities and turning the company around from a cash bleeding situation to a powerful and influential business and then into a new era of manufacturing and automotive history.
Margery Krevsky is the author of Sirens of Chrome: The enduring allure of auto show models, published by momentum Books. Available at amazon.com, www.sirensofchrome.come and moemtum.com