Manufacturing and Production

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Clarence Avery (1882-1949)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1919-1927
Major roles: Head of Glass Manufacturing, Chief Development Engineer
(image: THF148267)


Clarence Avery met the Ford’s as one of Edsel’s teachers at the Detroit University School and joined the company in 1912 as Charles Sorensen’s assistant. During the early years at the Highland Park plant, Avery played a key role in establishing the final moving assembly line and also worked to create subassembly lines. In 1919, Avery began experimenting in glass production, and by 1921 had developed a new process for Ford to mass produce glass for automobile windows. In 1920, Avery was put in charge of organizing Ford’s Northern Michigan Iron, Land and Lumber Company, and establishing the Iron Mountain plant. Avery also worked closely with Edsel to update Lincoln design and manufacturing when Ford bought company in 1922. As more production switched from Highland Park to the Rouge, Avery chose to resign in 1927.

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Frank (Mike) Bennett (1881-1958)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1904-1909, 1913-1921, 1924-1933

Major roles: Branch Representative, Production Superintendent

(image: p.o.2693 Acc. 1660 box 135)

Mike Bennett joined Ford Motor Company in 1904 at the Mack Ave. plant working on assembly and doing odd jobs. He moved into testing when the company moved to the Piquette Plant and was eventually put in charge of testing at the Ford Manufacturing Company. When that company closed, he returned to Piquette and worked in the experimental room, shipping, and testing, leaving the company in 1909. Bennett returned in 1913 at the Highland Park plant and worked under Frank Hadas in testing before moving on to the Detroit Branch supervising body assembly. In 1921, he left Ford to work as Production Manager in Yokohama for Sale & Frazar, the Ford distributor for Japan, China, and Korea. He returned to Ford in 1924 working a variety of jobs around the Ford and Lincoln plants and in 1925 was made a Branch Representative, travelling to branches in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. to check operations, make recommendations and report back to the home office. In 1930, he was sent to Russia as Production Supervisor to get the plants producing Ford vehicles in Moscow and Nizhni Novgorod up and running. Bennett returned to the United States in 1931 to work as Production Superintendent at the Salt Lake City branch, a position he held until he left the company permanently in 1933.


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Mead Bricker (1885-1964)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1904-1905, 1914-1950
Major roles: Production Superintendent Rouge Plant, General Manager Willow Run, Vice President in Charge of Manufacturing
(image: P.O.15712)

Mead Bricker first joined Ford Motor Company in 1904 at the Piquette plant as a machinist before leaving the next year for other opportunities. He returned to the company in 1914 working at the Henry Ford and Son plant as a tool maker in the experimental department. He soon rose through the ranks and was sent to England during the early stages of WWI to survey tractor building sites. On his return to Dearborn, he was made superintendent of the tractor plant under Charles Sorensen in 1917. In 1920, Bricker was made general superintendent of production at the Rouge, and in 1925 was moved to Highland Park for four years to oversee production there. He returned to the Rouge in the same role in 1929 and remained in that job until 1940 when he was put in charge of setting up and supervising the Aircraft Engine Plant at the Rouge building the Pratt and Whitney engines, and later directed the manufacture of Sperry anti-aircraft gun director production at Highland Park. In 1942, Bricker took over as Manager of the Willow Run plant, a position he maintained until the end of World War II. Bricker was appointed Vice President in charge of manufacturing in 1945, a role he worked at until he retired in 1950 though he remained associated with the company as a company director and special consultant.

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William Klann (1884-1972)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1905-1906, 1907-1928
Major roles: Assistant Superintendent – Highland Park
(image: P.O.13546 Acc. 1660 box 139)

William Klann joined Ford Motor Company in 1905 as a Machinist. After leaving the company in 1906 for another engineering job, Klann returned in 1907 as a Machinist at the Piquette Ave. plant working on cylinder blocks and conducting time studies on various machinery. In 1912, he was put in charge of motor assembly at the Highland Park plant and made a number of upgrades to assembly procedures to make it more efficient. During WWI he was in charge of Liberty Engine production at Highland Park.  Klann was named Assistant Superintendent at Highland Park in 1919. Because of his experience as a trouble shooter, Klann was sent to England to reorganize the English plant in 1923, returning to his role at Highland Park in 1924. Klann left the company in 1928.

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William Knudsen (1879-1948)

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1911-1921
Major roles: In charge of establishing branch assembly plants, Production Manager Highland Park Plant, Headed Eagle Boat production
(image: P.833.101592.8 Acc. 1660 box 139)

William Knudsen initially worked at John R. Keim Mills as a superintendent in Buffalo making Model T parts. Ford Motor Company bought the Keim plant in 1911 and hired the company’s executives. Knudsen was tasked to establish Ford assembly plants outside of the Detroit area. Over his time at Ford, he oversaw the building of 14 domestic plants and three in Europe. In 1915, he was put in charge of all branch assembly plants and became the Production Manager at Highland Park. During WWI, he supervised the production of ambulances, trucks, and aircraft motors. In 1918, he was put in charge of Eagle Boat production at the new Rouge plant. Knudsen resigned in 1921.

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Frank Kulick (1882-1968)
Man in circa 1910 race car
Years at Ford Motor Company: 1903-1926
Major roles: Test driver, Race Car driver
Image: THF123282

Frank Kulick was one of the first five employees of the Ford Motor Company in 1903. Kulick worked in several capacities for the company over his career starting as an inspector and test driver for the first vehicles. He was also one of Ford’s top race car drivers from 1904-1913 racing in a plethora of races including the Ocean to Ocean Race in 1909. Kulick often attended auto shows as a company representative, demonstrating Ford vehicles to customers and potential dealers. In 1924, Kulick embarked on a transcontinental publicity tour with the 10 millionth Ford, travelling all over the US to celebrate the milestone vehicle. Kulick also worked as a travelling mechanic, going from branch to branch working on vehicles and showing service techniques to staff. In his later years at Ford, Kulick worked as a tester and mechanic for experimental parts and vehicles. He left the company in 1926.

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John Wandersee (1877-1955) 

Years at Ford Motor Company: 1902-1947
Major roles: Head of Metallurgical Department
(image: 84.1.1660.P.O.15026 Acc.1660 box 140)

Wandersee joined Henry Ford as a cleaning and handyman while Ford was working with Wills at 81 Park Place in 1902. Soon, he was working on racers including the car that raced on Lake St. Claire, a 4cyl, and 6cyl racer and also worked in the Experimental Shop. While he helped set up the Ford Manufacturing Company plant during 1906-1907, Wandersee began studying metallurgy and trained at various companies to learn the trade. In 1907, he set up a laboratory and began making analysis of materials and also experimenting with heat treating. Soon afterwards, the company established a heat treating plant headed by Gus Degener and Charles Hartner, with Wandersee working to set standards and Degener carrying out the processes. After Wills left the company in 1919, Wandersee was put in charge of the Metallurgical Department and worked in that role until Hud McCarroll took over. Wandersee retired in 1947.

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  • Last Updated Mar 27, 2024
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