Even celebrities know the importance of starting small before going big when working hard and building a successful career. Henry Ford did the same before building his famous automobile company. But there are some singers out there, like Berry Gordy, who learned success by working in some automobile factories. What were they and how did they start his company?
Berry Gordy’s claim to fame
Gordy was born on November 28, 1929. According to Britannica, he dropped out of Northeastern High School in Detroit, MI, known as the “Motor City.” He tried to make a career out of boxing, but left to join the army in 1951.
He left the armed forces in 1953 and returned to Detroit, where he would find odd jobs in automobile factories until he started his own famous record label in 1959. His business took off and he represented many major stars of the the day.
He helped the likes of Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations. However, the biggest name he produced with his company was Michael Jackson, a rising star with his musical family.
Berry Gordy jobs at the Ford and Lincoln-Mercury plants
Gordy worked at two different plants, one of which was likely with the Ford Motor Company in Rogue River, according to Adam’s Auto Advice. Here he had a full day’s work, being fired after requesting a transfer elsewhere in the plant because he felt the working conditions were too difficult.
He then went to a Lincoln-Mercury plant, owned by the Ford Motor Company, in what Adams Auto thought was Wayne, MI, but is not clear in Gordy’s autobiography. During the two years he held the job, he earned approximately $86.40 per week assembling automobiles at the factory.
Gordy explains in his autobiography, Be loved, that his job was to attach chrome strips and trim to vehicle frames. He left in 1957, but before he did, he would set himself up for a long musical career.
How they took his automotive work to Motown
While working at the Michigan factory, he began composing music in his head during shifts. Gordy explains in his autobiography that he would use a tonal for a number system he developed himself. He wrote music to get him through some of his hardest factory work shifts.
Also, according to NADA, he was also inspired by work. He was quoted as saying: “These frames of cars moving slowly were the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.” What was he referring to? Well, likely the assembly line where the frames would start out as bare metal, and when they got to the end, a brand new automobile would roll off the line.
This gave him the idea that singers could come in with no experience, go through a process and eventually emerge as music stars. Of course, a vehicle like a Ford F-150 takes about 12 hours to build, and usually years for a singer to become famous. Thus, in 1959, the Motown Record Corporation was born.
Berry Gordy used his past experiences to become a successful record company owner. Even his short stints at several auto plants helped teach him the work ethic that would make him one of the most famous American business owners in history. Ford CEO Jim Farley was quoted as saying, “Our truck is here today because we rolled up our sleeves.” This is exactly what Gordy did before he made his company a successful business.
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