As the person responsible for transforming auto production, Henry Ford was connected to the auto industry from early on. Many people don’t realize that he used his connections to solidify his status as the founder of Ford Motor Company and beyond.
He worked extensively with inventor and botanist George Washington Carver to develop rubber for tires. They also were both big believers in biofuel and decades later we’re starting to use those ideas. Another idea they both partnered on was creating soybean-based plastic parts for cars, which were actually used for a number of years.
Ford also became friends with well-known race car drivers. One of them, Barney Oldfield, rode a gas-powered bicycle in a race, which quickly grabbed Ford’s attention. Ford was also building race cars that helped him to increase his connections in that world. Because of the friendship they developed and maintained, Ford’s connection to Oldfield was significant in paving the path to the creation of Ford Motor Company.
If you think about it, cars were actually a luxury at that time. They weren’t thought of as a method of transportation as we think of them now. Most people couldn’t afford them and it wasn’t easy for Ford to generate sales. But he knew that if he could show off a car’s capabilities at a race, it would help make his job easier.
It was his friendship with Oldfield that helped make this a possibility. Once Oldfield learned how to drive Ford’s creation, he was finding himself ahead at the very first race. It was after that race that the Ford Motor Company was started and it was boosted by the attention that race generated. Without that connection, it’s likely the company would have taken much longer to get off the ground.
Henry Ford continued to use his connections to benefit his business efforts and make a name for himself throughout his life. Connections like Charles Lindbergh and President Woodrow Wilson reflect how his connections grew and changed as his career progressed.
The important thing to remember here is in how he used those connections. Every one of them was important to building his business and it paid off. People may change over time but it’s through their connections that they can learn, grow, and succeed.