Mother’s Day is a special day. It’s the day we celebrate the woman who made us who we are today. From teaching us how to tie our shoes to changing our dirty diapers, we owe mom a great debt of gratitude for taking care of us and teaching us the life lessons we needed to learn, in order to be the people we are today.
Just as this is true for you and I, it is also true for the Ford Motor Company. Most people know that Clara Bryant Ford was mother to Edsel – the man who introduced the Model A – but what you may not know is that she’s the mother of the Ford Motor Company. Without her influence, the blue oval would not be what it is today.
So what better way for us to celebrate Mother’s Day on the Ford Blue Blog, than to celebrate the mother of the Ford Motor Company!
The Women Behind The Man
Like many women today, Clara faced a balancing act between work inside and outside the home. For her, the role of wife was an important job. Being a mother was her career. And her position in the community was that of role model.
Clara was her husband’s strongest supporter and she held his belief of making motorcars for the masses. While her husband worked tirelessly perfecting the car, she worked alongside him to keep him company and lend a hand. She took a deep interest in her husband’s business. And when she felt strongly about an issue affecting the company’s future or its employees, she made her opinion count.
Taking a Stand
In 1941, Ford Motor Company was unionized. Henry Ford was initially opposed to a collective bargaining agreement and threatened to break up the company, rather than negotiate. He would have carried through with his threat, but his wife Clara stepped in and told him she would leave him if he broke up the company. “What could I do?” Henry Ford said. He conceded, the contract was signed, and he later agreed that his wife was right.
The Company’s Succession
When Edsel Ford passed away in 1943, the company was left without a president. Henry reluctantly came back to the helm, but because of his deteriorating health, he was in no position to run the company long term, and a new president was needed. A choice had to be made between Henry Bennett, who had Henry Ford’s approval, and a younger Henry Ford II, who argued the company should remain a family-run business. Clara backed her son and worked relentlessly throughout the summer of 1945 to convince her husband that it was the right thing to do. Later that year Henry Ford II was named president of the Ford Motor Company.
How will you celebrate Mother’s Day? Will you have to drive far to see the special lady? Let us know in the comments below. To learn more about the life of Clara Bryant Ford, click here!