Meeting in Review: April 23, 2014
- Valentin Solis, guest of Clara Montanez
- Cynthia Mariz, realtor with Caldwell Banker, guest of Clara Montanez
- Edward Easton, international trade specialist with the Commerce Department, guest of Frank Reaves
- Dan Kapner, with Shapiro, Lifschitz and Schram, guest of Abe Helal
- Diego Grajales, guest of Guillermo Grajales
- James Butler, CEO of Guardhouse, guest of Dr. Sam Hancock
Visiting Rotarian from Overseas was Daniel Bahr of Muenster, Germany, now associated with the Center for American Progress
Filling in for Sergeant at Arms David Treadwell, John Jackson gave the birthday announcements:
Arrel Olano, April 20. He joined in 2012, and his classification is Internal Medicine
Mary Salander, April 21. She joined 2005, and her classification is Non-profit school mentoring
Bill Watts, April 25. He joined in 2013, and his classification is Law: Financial Services
PP Howard Davis is looking for Habitat for Humanity volunteers on May 3rd from 8:30 to 3:30 at the Ivy City Club-sponsored house under construction. The home is uniquely designed to have the highest energy efficiency rating, with roof solar panels providing electricity. Lunch will be served.
President Shaun gave a Paul Harris Fellow +6 pin to Dr. Sam Hancock.
Monica Smith then introduced our speaker, Peter Liebhold, Chair and Curator of the Division of Work and Industry at the Smithsonian Institute’s Museum of American History. He is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, and before coming to the Smithsonian, started the Baltimore History Industry Museum on the downtown waterfront. He has particular expertise in immigration, the culture of work, and technological change.
Mr Liebhold took over the microphone and took a few minutes to give us a sneak preview of a major new exhibit on the American Enterprise, a $20 million project that will open in 2015. It will highlight Information Technology, Agriculture, Finance, Manufacturing, and the Service and Retail Sectors. It will explore the themes of opportunity, innovation, competition and the common good.
His main topic, though, was the American Industrialist Henry Ford. Born on a Michigan farm in 1863, he moved away from the agricultural life he loved and hated to become a machinist in Detroit. His mechanical abilities were rewarded with increasingly important job s, but his real talent, according to Mr Liebhold, was communicating new ideas and persuading others to join him. The most exciting technology of the day was electricity, and Henry Ford became night shift supervisor at the Edison Illuminating Company. In 1896 he met Thomas Edison, who encouraged him to go forward with plans for a gasoline-powered automobile. Ford quit his job, and after a few failures, achieved the legendary successes we remember today.
Mr Liebhold had a number of interesting insights into Henry Ford’s complicated personality. He was not particularly inventive, but he hired brilliant associates. He was able to raise capital and convince investors to join him. He reinvested profits so assiduously that other shareholders had to sue for dividends. His most successful products, the Model T and the Fordson Tractor, stopped selling because of a lack of innovation.
We learned that the first mass-produced car was not a Ford, but an Oldsmobile, and that the famous auto assembly lines followed the concepts of beef and poultry animal “dis-assembly” lines in the agricultural Midwest. And yes, Ford did increase the daily wage to fight a 300% percent turnover, but the workers had to meet arduous requirements including a home inspection by social workers, and not many earned the top wage.
In questions and answers, Mr Leibhold expanded on aspects of the Ford biography and talked about some of the intellectual property battles on patents. We gave him a good round of applause and he was very pleased to receive the tree certificate.
New member applicant Ghazi Saad brought up the green raffle bucket, and our speaker picked out ticket 808888, which would be a highly auspicious number in Chinese circles. Ross Grantham won $23 but the inauspicious 2 of clubs marked the end of his luck.
The Hospitality Table was staffed by Balraj Gupta and Stu Shalloway, and the greeter was Heather Jaffan.
The meeting adjourned at 1:30 pm, with the customary reminder to turn the phones back on.