Tag Archives: Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

Great news about the Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

Shawn Miller is putting together a proposal regarding the Ford Assembly Plant for a mixed-use development with Class A office space on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors of the main building. The first floor of the main building will have a mixed use including, but not limited to, restaurants and other retail uses and an entrance to the Indianapolis Museum of Automotive History. The museum will occupy the one-story building on Southeastern Ave.

This is an outstanding development for Indiana automotive enthusiasts. The museum is something that will be a true asset to Indianapolis.

The city was a commercial producer of automobiles and taxicabs from 1897 to 1994. The Circle City, with 97 different vehicles manufactured here, ranks second to Detroit’s as chief rival for the title of the nation’s auto capital. A few of these auto plants exist today. The museum has been a dream of many in the collector car and automotive enthusiasts communities to have such a venue to celebrate and present this rich history.

The Ford Assembly Plant opened in 1915 and assembled more than 581,00 vehicles through 1932. In its prime, the approximate annual payroll of the plant was a little over $1,100.000.

Many people firmly believe renovating this auto plant is our last chance to establish such an important asset for the city. Its proximity to the central business district and convention zone will make it a destination for tourists and out-of-town visitors. The adjacent location of the IVY Tech Automotive Technology Center will provide opportunity for a unique educational partnership. The collector car hobby is a multi-billion-dollar industry that needs well-trained and experienced mechanics and tradespeople.

I invite you to support this proposal to convert the Ford Assembly Plant. On February 21, the IPS School board will decide the fate of this building. If you can attend to speak in support of this proposal, you need to submit a request at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting.

You could also send a letter to each member of the IPS board. The commissioners are: Mary Ann Sullivan Pres: SullivMA@myips.org, Michael O’Conner VP: OConnorMB@myips.org, Kelly Bentley: bentleyk@myips.org, Diane Arnold: arnoldd@myips.org, Elizabeth Gore: goree@myips.org, Venita Moore: moorevj@myips.org, Dorene Hoops: Hoopsd@myips.org.

Let’s make this Indianapolis Museum of Automotive History happen. This is a “Once in a Lifetime Chance” to see this museum be built in an existing Indianapolis auto structure.

Ford Motor Company announces $5 a Day

Ford laborers were given a significant increase in pay on January 5, 1914. Ford Motor Company announced a $5 a day minimum wage for an eight-hour shift, which started a seismic shift for labor across the industry.

In early 1914, Henry Ford and company leaders were troubled by high rates of absenteeism and turnover at the Highland Park plant. Daily absenteeism ran at 10% of the workforce and the turnover of 380% required the company to constantly replenish its workforce with new hires.

Ford Highland Park January 6, 1914
Ford Highland Park January 6, 1914
Copyright © Ford Motor Company

By sunrise the morning following the announcement, there were some 10,000 men milling around in the below freezing weather with swirling snow outside Highland Park. They came to fill the openings of the additional shift. On Saturday, January 10, signs announced that hiring had ceased.

A. S. Blakely reported in the January 11 Indianapolis Star “the recent announcement of the Ford Motor Company that it would distribute $10,000,000 profits among its employees in semi-monthly dividends and make a minimum wage scale of $5 a day, has been given the subject of general interest in Indianapolis during the past week. Not only members of the (auto industry) fraternity have been discussing the great gift, but business men in general have commented favorably on the action of the Detroit concern. The announcement goes even further and says that the company will employ 4,000 more men by working in three eight-hour shifts and operating the plant continuously. In a recent interview, Henry Ford, president of the great institution, made the following statement concerning the announcement. “We have estimated the earnings of our company and will divide it as we go along, or, in other words, as we earn it. It will be in the pay envelopes semi-monthly. Our belief is that the division of earnings between capital and labor is not fair and that labor is entitled to a greater share. We desire to express our belief in some practical way and therefore have adopted this plan.””

The new $5 Day for an eight-hour shift was achieved by replacing the two existing nine-hour shifts with a nonstop rotation of eight-hour shifts around the clock. Ford Motor Company got more production, and the workers put in fewer hours. This was a win-win for everyone.

The $5 Day changed the absenteeism and turnover. The Highland Park daily absenteeism dropped to under 1%, and replacement hiring dropped from 53,000 in 1913 to just 2,000 by 1915.

Ford Indianapolis Body Drop
Ford Indianapolis Body Drop
Copyright © Ford Motor Company

These favorable production conditions encouraged Ford to build a number of branch assembly plants across the country. Construction of the Ford branch assembly plant (known as Plant 215) in Indianapolis at East Washington Street and Oriental began later in fall 1914. The Indianapolis plant commenced production in spring 1915. By the mid-1920’s, this plant assembled 300 cars per day.

Henry Ford’s announcement of a $5 a day minimum wage impacted laborers across the country including Indianapolis. This gesture certainly impacted the dream of car ownership for the common-man.

For more information on our automotive heritage follow this link.

Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Plant Celebrates Grand Opening

1915 Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant
1915 Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant

The Ford Motor Company Indianapolis Branch Assembly Plant, 1315 East Washington Street, celebrated its grand opening on March 9, 1915. A two-mile-long automobile parade along East Washington St; provided over 5,000 people for a plant inspection during automobile show week. The parade was more than 45-minutes passing any given point. A. H. Smith, plant manager, and S. H. Jones, assistant plant manager, addressed the gathering. Details were arranged by the Chamber of Commerce with assistance of the Merchants Association. The Ford Motor Company allotted 250 cars from the plant for the use of its guests in addition to over 200 other individuals’ cars. At the time of the opening, the plant had about 250 employees and assembled 60 cars a day. The four-story Indianapolis branch was valued at $410,000.

276 cars for deivery
276 cars for deivery

This April 1915 photo near the plant shows 276 autos awaiting delivery to the Ford Indiana Zone dealers. Through the chain of 24 assembly plants, the Ford Motor Company was enabled to make almost immediate delivery of Ford cars to any section of the country. During the late fall and winter months, assembled parts were shipped to the assembly plants and stored there so that when spring came with its added demand, Ford cars were assembled and distributed to waiting buyers. In most cases, delivering agents drove the cars home.

Assembly branches also avoided the hazard of damaging cars in loading and unloading from freight cars as well as in-transit damage over considerable distances. Branches served only their contiguous territory. Ford Motor Company assembled vehicles at the Indianapolis plant through 1932.