Henry Ford couldn't get off the farm and into the factory fast enough, but he provided the best of both worlds to rural Michiganians when he created his innovative Village Industries.
Village Industries was a series of small factories established mostly in the 1930s. The plants employed local farmers to produce automobile parts while they maintained their farms. About 19 existed in southeast Michigan within 60 miles of Ford's Rouge complex; most of them still stand. About 10 more were established in states as far away as New York and Wisconsin. The plants built a variety of smaller parts for the Model T and Model A as well as other Ford, Mercury and Lincoln Zephyr cars, some into the modern era. Ford Motor Co. records show that in 1939, nearly 2,500 people were employed in making welding points, lamps, drills, valves, taps, generators, starter switches and similar light products in the village plants.
Henry Ford built some of the Village Industries buildings from scratch, for which he employed famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn. Other buildings were 100 years old; Henry Ford converted them from sawmills and gristmills. His primary criterion for selecting a site was the availability of water power.