Henry Ford Could Have Been A Watch Manufacturer


Sometimes circumstances will cheat us of opportunities. But often they are blessings in disguise.

Henry Ford’s experience provides a great example.

At the age of 16, Henry skipped school and took a train to Detroit, Michigan. There he found work as a mechanic for the steam engine manufacturer James Flower & Company. Nine months later Henry quit and found employment with the Dry Dock Engine Works.

At the Dry Dock plant he could be found inspiring a group of youths with towering ambitions. One vision was to build a watch manufacturer:

Ford planned that they (Dry Dock Engine Works workers) should organize a watch factory which, he demonstrated to their satisfaction, could turn out 2,000 watches a day at a cost of 37 cents each, to be sold for 50 cents. They would buy their raw materials in great quantities, start it going at one end of his dream factory and have the complete watches tossed out with lightning rapidity at the other end.

Then fate would intercede:

Before starting the company he was called home to look after the farm on account of his father having been injured and his older brother having fallen ill. Alas, this cheated the young band of their promised millions and deprived the world of 50-cent Ford watches.

Had Henry Ford not gone home to help with his family’s farm in 1882, he quite possibly could have been a watch manufacturer. He then wouldn’t have married neighboring farmer’s daughter, Clara Bryant, in 1888, they wouldn’t have settled in a snug house of their own, and Henry likely wouldn’t have had time in the evening to study all things mechanical.

I’d find it hard believe that a watch manufacturer would read a technical magazine about a horseless carriage, get excited enough to sell their business, and then start from scratch developing this new technology.

But, Henry Ford did go home. He did read that magazine. Ford eventually got a job with Edison Illuminating Company and had time to experiment with his gasoline engine. This opportunity then led to meeting Thomas Edison himself who encouraged Henry to keep at it.

Henry Ford stuck to his dream. Actually Ford’s vision did come true, by the early 1910s, expect that it was automobiles his factories produced. The daily total was not 2,000 but 3,000, and the selling price of the finished article was not 50 cents but several hundred dollars.

So whenever something doesn’t work out exactly as you planned, remember not to get discouraged. Your defeats and minor set backs are likely a blessing in disguise.

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