The name EMF comes from the last-name initials of three individuals, Byron F. Everitt, William E. Metzger, and Walter E. Flanders. Everitt was born in Ontario and had earned a living by building wagons. At age nineteen he moved to Detroit where he continued his trade. By 1899 he had started his own company specializing in building bodies for carriages. Soon, the company was commissioned by Henry Ford and Ransom Olds to produce bodies for their horseless carriages. By 1904 Everitt produced a vehicle which he dubbed the Wayne. Fred Fisher and Walter Briggs had helped in accomplishing this endeavor.
William Mertzger was born in Peru, Illinois and at the age of ten moved to Michigan. He earned a living by selling bicycles. Before the close of the century, he was selling electric and steam cars and his business was prospering. He was a gifted salesman and a motivated indivudal.
Walter Flanders was born in Rutland, Vermont. At age fifteen he left school to pursue a career as a machinist. His abilities were displayed when Henry Ford ordered a thousand crankshafts. Flanders was able to complete the order and delivered on-time. Ford immediately realized this mans potential and hired him to invent and arrange production machinery. Under Flanders direction and supervision, new drills, grinders, and milling equipment were created. He established timesaving methods that greatly reduced the time needed to produce and assembly the automobile.
In March of 1908 Flanders left the Ford Motor Company and accepted a general manager position at the Wayne Automobile Company with Barney Everitt as president. In June, Metger joined with Everitt and Flanders and the group became known as 'the big three.' Their union was celebrated at the Cafe des Beaux Arts.
An alliance was formed with Studebaker. In the words of Colonel George M. Studebaker 'We considered it more advantageous to us to form an alliance with a group of men ... possessing . . . factory facilities, experience and manufacturing ability of a rare order, as well as an intimate knowledge of the problems peculiar to the motorcar, than to establish a separate factory of our own.'
By July of 1908, the production of the EMF automobile had begun and deliveries were made beginning in September. During their introductory year 172 examples were produced. Due to the use of a thermo-syphon instead of a water pump, the engines often overheated. All 172 vehicles were recalled.
During 1909, 7960 examples of the Studebaker-EMF automobiles had been produced, making this union the fourth-largest automobile manufacturer. By 1911, with 26,827 examples produced, they were number two.