One of the most respected minds in automotive history
Although the Packard brothers founded the Warren, Ohio-based Packard Motor Company in 1899, it was Henry B. Joy who guided the company to become one of the world’s foremost luxury car manufacturers. A wealthy Detroiter, Henry Joy first saw a Packard automobile while on a trip to New York City in 1902. So impressed by the car was Joy that he purchased the only Packard for sale in the city. He liked the car so much that he persuaded nine other Detroiters to invest in the company, taking majority ownership.
When the city council of Warren, Ohio prevented Packard from expanding, Joy persuaded company president James Ward Packard to move the company to Detroit. Joy hired a young architect named Albert Kahn to design a new factory to be located on East Grand Boulevard in Detroit. The result would be the world’s first reinforced concrete factory. This building was the most modern of its day and served as the model for factories that followed, including Ford’s Highland Park Plant. James Ward Packard stayed behind in Ohio to run the Packard Electric business, effectively turning the reins over to Joy, who became Packard president in 1909. Under Henry Joy’s leadership, Packard began to expand its reputation for technology and luxury. Joy was a flamboyant, charismatic executive, who in moments of impatience would frequently say, “Let’s do something, even if it’s wrong!” Joy guided Packard into many innovative developments, such as the creation of a V-12 engine and aviation pursuits which resulted in the renowned Liberty engine.
Joy was also became the first president of the Lincoln Highway Association. Joy recruited municipal and state participation and even determined much of the route itself. Joy continued to serve as chairman of Packard until 1926. His contemporaries in the auto industry, business partners, and competitors considered Joy to be one of the most brilliant and perceptive minds in the industry. Joy remained active in the industry until his death in 1936, after helping establish Packard as one of the worlds’ foremost automobile manufacturers.