The growth of the U.S industry, the middle class and even Motor City itself; Henry Ford II (45) has it all in his name.
The Hard.Land crew is back in the U.S. – for the final roadtrip and research. We chose the great city of Detroit, the metropol that became the very symbol of the rise and fall of the American middle class and the manufacturing industry.
But be aware. Detroit isn’t dead!
Detroit, that once put the world on wheels, is doing it again. This time, another Henry Ford hopes he will be in front of a new transport revolution in the U.S. by building and riding bicycles. (Article continues…)
Sitting in a chair in the factory hall at Detroit Bikes, Henry Ford II acknowledges that the city of Detroit has a very special place in the American history. Henry and his family have been living The American Dream for almost a century in this city.
“My grandparents came to Detroit from Mississippi during The Great Migration in the 1920’s. Rosevelt Ford, my grandfather, was employed at the Ford Motor Company. He was so grateful for the opportunities he was given that he named his son after his boss, Henry Ford. So when I was born, it had to be Henry Ford II”, tells Henry, chuckles as he works on another new bike, soon to be ready for sale.
He is the master builder at Detroit Bikes, a new made-in-Detroit-company that is growing up in the ashes of the old bankrupt city.
Henry was employed in the auto industry in the 90’s and the 00’s. He too was on the way to the rock bottom.
– When I was unemployed, I had a hard time focusing on the positive. And, initially, when I just really had enough and I was really upset at my situation, I looked outside my window, and I saw kids riding by their bikes. And they’re all laughing, and having a good time. That’s when it clicked. That’s when I was like, “Well, I’ve been sitting in this house for three days straight, waiting for somebody to call me for a job. I got a bike in my garage that hasn’t been touched in a week, or in a month, he tells.
Detroit Bikes’ master builder is also in front on the Slow Roll Detroit Movement. Every Monday people and their bicycles meet and roll through different neighborhood in the city. It started with a few. Now they are thousands.
Henry thinks the bike has become a cool thing. And it makes people friendlier:
“It just takes a moment of realization to blur those lines because when you’ve got group rides and you see families coming out of their houses because their kids are yelling to look at all these magnificent bikes coming, the smiles on the kids, the waves from the people on their porch, the ‘thank you’s’ that we get from going through their neighborhood because they’re not used to having one-on-one facial contact with people who really can just easily stop and say, “Hi,” can shake your hand”,
Detroit Bikes was founded in 2013 by Zakary Pashak (35). He has invested 2.5 million dollars and he and his employees have build the factory up from the ground. In 2016 they will start to make money too. The Detroit Bike is getting more and more popular.
“The idea for the Detroit Bikes came to me in my 30s. I was looking for a career change and I was interested in moving to a different city. Detroit was the most interesting city that I could move to. I came to visit. I fell in love with the place. Spending some time here, I wanted to come up with a company that would have the greatest impact possible in the city of Detroit and have the best chance to be part of this recovery story that is happening”, says Pashak.
Henry Ford II never lost his confidence in his city, not even during the darkest year and in 2013 when Detroit filed for bankruptcy:
“Detroit is resilient, Detroit is strong, Detroit is not going anywhere. Nothing stops Detroit, Detroit versus everybody.”