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An  Issue of Interest to All Consultants

(And Those Who Pay Consultant Bills)


Henry Fords Experience with a Consultant

This is a story attributed to Henry Ford.  Couldn't document the actual case or the name on the consultant involved but it sounds like what Henry would have done:

Ford was having problems with the Rouge Power Plant for over a year.  When visiting with the plant manager he said he knew of a person who had a wealth of experience with power plants and for the manager to engage his services.

The manager did as Ford suggested.  The consultant visited and in one day solved the problem that had plagued them for over a year!  The plant manager notified Henry the problem was solved!  The bill came to his desk about a week later.  It was for $20,000!  The plant manager was flabbergasted.  He hadn't defined the cost before engaging this fellow who Henry had suggested.  Knowing that Mr. Ford was, shell we say "cheap," he thought he must tell Henry before paying the invoice.

Henry was also astonished.  He wrote to the consultant and said; "No one is worth $20,000 for a days worth of work.  Revise your bill."

The Consultant wrote back and said;  "Mr. Ford, you're correct, no one is worth $20,000 for a days work.  Therefore for a days work the charge is $200.  For the 40 years experience that allowed me to solve the problem in one day the knowledge portion of my fee is $19,800."


My Experience

A newly hired Vice President of a pipe manufacturer called and asked for 5 days of my consulting time.  When I visited, found the large diameter water pipe they were producing had numerous porosity defects  in the submerged arc  seam welds.  Pipe was piled up in their yard . 

They had just spent over $500,000 for all new advanced technology welding equipment, had put in wire brushes to clean the surface to be welded, sent a number of welders for training on the new equipment and still had the same porosity problems they had prior to this investment! 

I solved the problem in one day! 

When having lunch with the VP on day 4 of the consulting effort, I mentioned the "Ford" story as he was telling me he had informed his folks he knew a consultant would be expensive but it was needed!   The VP was true to his word and paid me for the 5 days for which I was contracted.  I spent several days training not only the submerged arc operators where the problem existed but in addition about 25 semiautomatic welders.  They were mostly  MIG welding  pipe attachments, man-ways, elbows etc.   

As I mentioned to the VP, the cause of the porosity problem they were having I had seen before!  It was easy to define and set up a test to demonstrate  the cause and solution of the porosity.  I was being paid for my 40+years of knowledge not just for 5 days of work!


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