Who owns Ford?- Full History

Who owns Ford?

The founder and the owner of the Ford company, Henry Ford was one of the most compelling inventors of the 19th & 20th centuries. His invention of automobiles during the Industrial Revolution was remarkable. The dream of moving from one place to another without any hassles and burning calories was fulfilled by Henry Ford. Ford enabled people to go places at their comfort and luxury. Here, let’s know Who owns Ford?

The company is under the ownership of three major shareholders- William Clay Ford, Mark Fields, and Joseph Henrich. William Clay Ford is the great-grandson of Henry Ford and holds the highest shares of the company. Mark Fields was the CEO of the company from 2014 to 2017 and still holds the second-highest shares of the company. Joseph Henrich stands in the third position to own the shares of Ford. Hence Ford is the world’s largest family-controlled company. 

Who started it & When?

The journey of Ford began way back in 1899 when Henry Ford first invented the Detroit Automobile Company. Later this company was renamed the Henry Ford company. By 1902 the company had started facing some financial crunch, and Henry Ford departed from the company. However, he took his rights on the company’s name and a few dollars with him to start a new journey in the realm of automobiles. With an association of coal dealer Alexander Malcolmson, Henry Ford started designing the car and buying the parts of the car from third parties.

And by June 1903, the Ford Motor Company was established with 12 investors & shareholders. Yet the larger shareholdings were with Ford and Malcolmson. The early investors of the company were; John.S.Gray, John.W.Anderson, Horace Rackham, Horace.E.Dodge, John.F.Dodge, Charles.T.Bennett, Vernon.C.Fry. Albert Sterlow, James Couzens, and Charles.J.Woodall. Although by 1906, Ford was the president of the company.

Early developments:

In its early days, the company was designing models that were chronologically named. The company’s first model, Ford Model A, was designed in 1903, and within one year, more than 1000 models were manufactured. Later in 1904, the company introduced Model B, an upscale touring car, and Model C. Model C was the revised version of Model A with some improvisations in appearance and a powerful engine. The chronological letters for the car went till Model K, and the last one to be the Model S. The K model of the company was known as ‘the gentlemen’s roadster’ and was sold at $2800. The Model S was the company’s last model with right-hand steering.        

In those days, Ford was the only company that was selling cars at the highest price in the market. And within a time of five years, the company had its plant in Michigan. The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant became its assembly line factory and dealt with the mass production of cars. Thus Henry Ford was not just the founder of cars or engines, but he also introduced new techniques & methods and gave a vision to the Industrial Revolution. The method of assembly lining in his factory gave the company rocketing sales of more than five lakhs in 1915. 

Some quick developments of Ford company:

  • Ford Model T, produced in 1908, was considered to be the most affordable car for middle-class Americans. The ‘T’ Model was known as the powerful symbol of the U.S. age of modernization. And this model was esteemed as the most sold car in the history of the automobile industry. 
  • In 1927, Model T again was replaced by Model A with improvisation such as safety glass in the windshield.
  • By 1932 Ford introduced its first low-priced car with a V8 engine. 
  • After recovering from the World War traumas and Great Depression scene, Ford was geared up with its new inventions and research. 
  • In 1956 Ford came up with some safety measures in the car. Some of its ice-breaking innovations were a standard deep-dish steering wheel, optional front, rear seatbelts, an optional padded dash, and the seat belt light reminder.
  • Ford came with new child-proof door locks and the first retractable hardtops on a mass-produced six-seater car in the following year.
  • From the 1980s, Ford was the most successful & modern vehicle brand in the U.S. and the European continent. They understood that branding and marketing were the keys to sustainable business in the future.
  • In the 1990s, Ford took over the company such as Jaguar & Aston Martin. 

Top three individual shareholders and the institutional shareholders:

Since its inception, Ford has transformed drastically from designing a single car model to having the world’s most efficient mass production assembly lines. From starting with twelve investors to having thousands of investors and employees. Three individuals hold the maximum shares at the Ford; William Ford, Mark Fields, and Joseph Heinrich. 

William Clay Ford: William is the great-grandson of Henry Ford and the highest individual shareholder of the company. His shares represent nearly 8 million shares of the company, which allows him to elect 40% of the Board of Directors. He started his career at Ford with various positions in sales, marketing, product development, finance, and management. He also headed the Climate Control Division and was also a part of the heavy truck operations at Ford. Later from 2001-2006, he served as the CEO of the company. During his leadership, the company saw improvements in quality, lowered cost, and introductions of new products. His tenure resulted in a profitable business for the company. He also served during the Great Recession period of 2007-2009 and saved the company from filing bankruptcy. In present times, William Ford is the chairman of the United States-Mexico Chambers of Commerce.

Mark Fields: Mark Fields has been associated with Ford since 1989. He has nearly 1.8 million shares of the company. At the age of 36, he was running Ford’s Argentina operation. Later, Mark Fields was designated to run sales and marketing for the Mazda Motor Corporation (the company was owned by Ford then). Within two years, Fields was appointed as the president and the CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation. He was the youngest CEO of a Japanese company ever. Later, he was assigned as a Chairman and the CEO of the Premier Automotive Group (a luxury unit of the company). Consequently, by 2012 he was appointed as the COO (Chief Operating Officer) of the company. He also served as the President and the CEO of the company from 2014 to 2017.   

Joseph Heinrich: Heinrich has been part of the company since 2002. As per the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission of 2017, he holds more than 6 lakh worth of shares in the company. He has managed various departments in Ford. He was executive director of the Global Material Planning and Logistics organization at Ford. Thereon, he was responsible for Ford business in Canada as the President & the CEO. He also managed Global Manufacturing at Ford & Ford’s Labor relations globally. In 2009 he was also a Group Vice President in the Asia Pacific and Africa. From 2017 to 2019, Heinrich was the Executive Vice President & President of the Global Operations at the company.      

Some of the Institutional Owners of Ford are as follows: 

  • There are nearly 1,426 institutional investors and Hedge funds of the Ford company.
  • Few institutional investors that have a significant shareholding in the company are Vanguard Group Inc.($4.41B) which represents more than 7%, and Blackrock Inc. ($3.89B), which represents more than 6% of the total shares outstanding as per the 13F filing of the company’s previous year ending. Finally, State Street Corp ($2.46B) and Newport Trust Co. ($2.43B) collectively represent more than 5% of the total shares outstanding as per the 13F filing of the company’s previous year ending.
  • Overall, as per the recent market study of the last 24 months, there has been tremendous growth in institutional buying of the company’s shares. Investors have bought nearly 493,541,654 shares, and that represents almost $4.77B.   
  •  Ford Motor Stock owned by the institutional owners is in between 49 to 51%. 


It has been more than a century that Ford has been in the market, yet it continues to stand in the Top 10 list of the automobile industry. Over the years, we have seen how the founders and their families are separated from their businesses. But Henry Ford’s family still has its significant shares and leads the Board of Directors. Ford has been the perfect blend of innovation, research, technology, and family bonding.        

Frequently asked questions:

Is Ford still an American brand or a British brand?

Yes, Ford is still an American brand; however, it has expanded its reach across the globe. 

Which is bigger, Ford or General Motors?

Based on the recent performances, Ford is bigger than General Motors. Ford has total revenue of $127 billion.

Where does Ford rank today in the auto industry?

Among some of the world’s largest car companies, Ford ranks at number 3. 

What is Ford’s biggest market?

The U.S. is the most extensive & number sales market for Ford Motor Company.

Who owns Ford?- Full History

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