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He Benz, But Can He Brake?

By Art van Bodegraven | 09/06/2017 | 2:12 PM

Please enjoy the thoughts and musings of our friend, supporter, and long-time contributor Art van Bodegraven Jr., who passed away on June 18, 2017. Art was a prolific writer and had amassed a collection of unpublished blog posts he had planned to run well into the future. To honor his memory, we will continue to post these remaining blogs as he had intended. If you’ve been a fan of The Art of Art blog, check out our tribute.


Jingoists, all, we ascribe the automobile to American icons, and "everybody" knows the hallowed names of Henry Ford, Ransome E. Olds (REO), Elwood Haynes, the pride of Kokomo (Indiana, not the beach) Stanley of Steamer notoriety, Pierce, whose Arrow was iconic in its own right, and handsfull of lesser luminaries, including the Appersons, 

But, the origins of the motorcar antedated the fabled assembly line, as well as great names such as Duesenberg, Alexander Winton, John Willys, Preston Tucker, William Durant, the Duryea Brothers, David Buick, Jonathan Maxwell, the Briscoes, Vincent Bendix, Frederic Fisher, James Packard, John Studebaker, Stutz, Marmon, Charles Nash, Walter P. Chrysler, the Dodge Brothers, et al.

In fact, 1886 saw the issue of a patent to Karl Friedrich Benz for a moving vehicle, a three-wheeled four-cycle oundation for an empire.  But Karl was not an ace businessman, and it took his wife's dowry to save the fledgling corporation.  Once.  But, when Benz failed to change with the times, and clung to an outdated vision for Benz & Cie, Bertha had no more bail-out money.

And, thus she died at 95, Karl predeceasing her by some ten years, after a stultifying stint on the Benz Supervisory Board.  Nevertheless, Benz' and his magical patent transformed the work of shade-tree mechanics into complex machinery that altered lifestyles all over the planet.  

It took a few decades for the assembly line to re-imagine how the machines were to be efficiently manufactured.  And, even then, the pioneering work was done by Ransom Olds, and not the fabulously successful Henry Ford.



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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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