Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant Temporal and Technological Change

In treating with the Henry Ford empire, we have several givens in examining changes over time. For one, there was never any real shortage of hard cash at the home offices. When reserves dwindled during the depression, Ford closed assembly plants so that he could continue making money. The elder Henry Ford as we have seen was hesitant to give up on the old Model T, and in moving on to the Model A and V-8s it took the push and shove of new competitors and of younger men around him such as his son Edsel to make things happen. In spending money for upkeep, in adding state-of-the-art technology, the Ford company offices in normal times never seemed to hold back. As far as the evidence tells us, all innovation except for minor improvements like those stemming from plant to plant Work Standards Departments and employee suggestions, came from Dearborn, Michigan. There Ford had work done at the Edison laboratory and at his own research laboratory and he tended to introduce positive change in his Detroit factories first, then promptly see that the branch factories were supplied. The Long Beach Plant at its opening followed along with the Rouge where a modern assembly plant was installed at about the same time. It did not appear to lag technologically, nor did it make decisions for itself. We read of sweeping modernization as in 1951, and of minor changes. Except for employee suggestions, they all were initiated and dictated from the home plant.

As for management changes and how new blood would affect Ford Long Beach, this would depend upon how the Ford family juggled power among themselves. The family owned all the stock until 1955, and even after that and surely until this plant closed in 1959, they made the decisions. Henry Ford finally had to concede to handing over power to his grandson, Henry Ford II in 1945. Then we see organizational changes, and new innovative blood at the top that would push Long Beach into a high water mark period.

When the Long Beach plant opened Ford executives acclaimed it as "The most modern and efficient factory of its kind in the world."