Charles E. Sorensen

Inducted 2001

Distinguished Service Citation Award 1945

Instrumental in developing Henry Ford’s first moving assembly line

Responsible for the planning and construction of the Willow Run Bomber Plant

Charles E. Sorensen met Henry Ford when he joined a Detroit custom foundry. Ford hired him in 1904 and Sorensen worked his way up from a pattern maker to become Henry Ford’s production chief in a career that lasted to 1944. Sorensen devised and developed new manufacturing methods, assembly lines and conveyor systems that made Ford Motor Company the world’s greatest example of mass production.

During World War II, he was responsible for the planning and construction of a new facility to build the world’s first-mass-produced airplanes. The Willow Run Bomber Plant, near Detroit, produced giant B-24 bombers at the rate of one every working hour. Upon his retirement from Ford, he became Chairman of Willys Overland Motors and transformed the World War II Jeep into a civilian version known as the Jeepster, a forerunner to today’s sport utility vehicles.

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Class of 2001

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