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Home > Ford Info > Ford Story

The Ford Story

Back in 1913, twenty-year old Ford Mason was groping for the bottom rung of the ladder to success. He was an itinerant roofing salesman who spent spring, summer and early fall traveling in horse and buggy over the winding country roads of western New York State. But he was idle during the winter because nobody repaired barn roofs in cold weather.
Looking for work that winter of 1913, Ford met a man engaged in the odd business of operating vending machines for chewing gum. The first such machine had been invented only a few years before, and just a handful of men had ventured into the gum machine business.
Ford immediately sensed the opportunity for which he had been searching. He borrowed the money to lease 102 machines from a manufacturer, and placed the machines in the stores and shops of Hornell and other communities in western New York State. Then Ford spent the winter collecting pennies from his machines and filling them with gum. "It was fun," Ford recalls, "to try to figure out which locations would be the most productive."
Ford Gum Machine
Ford went back to the more orthodox business of selling roofing as soon as April showers washed the winter's ice from the back country roads. Each succeeding winter he reentered the gum business and as Ford gained more experience he became convinced that the penny gumball could be parlayed into big business.
It would be a full-time job, however, because the newborn industry was thoroughly unprincipled. Most gum machine operators were fly-by-nights, more interested in making immediate profits than in satisfying customers. Vending machine gum was so poor that most people would buy only once and never again waste a penny. Also, machines often took coins and then failed to deliver merchandise.
Ford realized that these conditions would have to be overcome, and he was smart enough to recognize that success awaited the first businessman who would give the people their money's worth. Here was a challenge which intrigued the young man and roused his sense of decency. He would make good gum! He would make reliable machines! He would give the public a square deal!  So Ford quit the roofing business to devote all his energy to selling gum.
Ford's father, a Baptist minister, was highly pleased with his son's decision. And soon after Ford began his crusade for better business ethics, Reverend Mason said: "Make your own machines, my boy, and share your profits with God."
That Ford Mason took his father's advice is now a matter of history. He began with almost no money, but unlimited enthusiasm and self-confidence. He bested one obstacle after another creating a business empire stretching from coast to coast. Over 500,000 vending machines perched on store counters and pipe pedestals in countless North American communities testify to the magnitude of  his operations.

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