FORD MOTOR COMPANY
With an eye on making automobile ownership commonplace for the growing middle class, Ford Motor Company was the first to introduce the assembly line as it produced the famed Model T, the first so-called people's car.
Ford Motor Company's founder, Henry Ford, was a restless engineer at the Edison Illuminating Company in Detroit before he set out on his own to construct the first gasoline engines. The tinkering paid off, and he completed his first automobile by the end of the 1800s.
Today, Ford is one of the world's largest automobile makers. Besides the Ford brand, the Dearborn, Mich.-based company also manufactures cars under the names of Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin. On top of making cars, Ford also operates Ford Credit, and owns The Hertz Corporation, the largest automobile rental company in the world.
At the turn of this century, Ford (along with the other two big U.S. automakers, GM and Chrysler) was on shaky financial ground. Slowing sales and stiff competition from Japanese automakers cut into its once well-guarded bottom line. As a response, then-Ford Chairman Bill Ford called for a plan to cut costs and bring the company back to profitability in 2005. The plan was dubbed "The Way Forward."
In 2006 the company named Alan Mulally, an executive at Boeing, to become the company's president, CEO and director.