Answered By: Archives & Library Staff @The Henry Ford
Last Updated: Aug 23, 2021 Views: 5

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.

Key resources:
Acc. 1 Fair Lane papers
   box 179 "Production Report on all Assembly Plants" by Knudsen, 1914-1915 
E. A. Walters Reminiscences 
Charles C. Krueger Reminiscences 

 

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.

Key resources:
W.C. Klann Reminiscences 
Acc. 499 William C. Klann Papers 

Related Topics

Contact Us

ATTN: The Benson Ford Research Center remains closed to the public for in-person research, tours, and visits. It will remain closed until further notice, but Research Center staff members continue to respond to inquiries. Please contact us by email, phone, mail, or by submitting a question.

Mail:

Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford
P.O. Box 1970
Dearborn, Michigan, USA 48121-1970