By on March 2, 2012

An Automotive News story today reported on an incredible – dare I say, game changing - method of corporate governance over at Ford; swearing at, and attempting to physically attack your co-workers!

According to a new book titled American Icon, which details Ford’s turnaround since 2006, CFO Don Leclair insisted that the advertising budget for Ford’s “Bold Moves” ad campaign be cut further. AN outlines the exchange below

“When you run the f–king business, you can do it,” Fields responded to Leclair, Hoffman wrote. “But you don’t run it. You’re the CFO. So, I’ll take your counsel, but that’s it.”

Leclair then shouted, “You’re going to do this,” Hoffman wrote, adding: Fields leapt out of his chair screaming, “I’m tired of this bulls—!”

Fields was “halfway across the table” when Bill Ford, then the automaker’s CEO, grabbed him, according to Hoffman. “Cut it out,” Ford said, according to Hoffman’s book

A look at Ford’s org chart shows that Fields and Leclair are on the same level, which makes Fields’ statement regarding running “the f—king business” all the more puzzling. Leclair, as CFO, would probably be a greater asset to Ford than a fungible marketing wonk like Fields, and if this were a conventional work place, Fields probably would have been fired for this kind of behavior. Leclair apparently blocked other moronic marketing department schemes like offering carbon offsets along with the purchase of a Ford vehicle because they were deemed to be the 21st century secular liberl version of buying indulgences from the Church too expensive.

It’s worth noting that at the same time, Fields was criticized for using the company jet to fly home to Florida, at a cost of $18,000 each week at the same time that the Leclair incident, and the shedding of tens of thousands of hourly workers was occurring.

For a breathless rimjob of Fields dubious actions an alternate view on the events, and Fields suitability as Ford’s future CEO, check out Jalopnik’s own piece on the matter.

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39 Comments on “F-Bomb Flies From Ford’s Fields...”


  • avatar
    GS650G

    They certainly have a lot of emotions over the business. I’ve seen and heard worse in high level meetings, especially with a few million on the line.

  • avatar
    Lynchenstein

    What’s that car in the background of the photo?

  • avatar
    86er

    “Leclair, as CFO, would probably be a greater asset to Ford than a fungible marketing wonk like Fields, and if this were a conventional work place, Fields probably would have been fired for this kind of behavior.”

    In “Once Upon a Car” LeClair is depicted as a relic of the old guard that, while serving well for a time under the new regime, eventually had to be asked to resign.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Does “Miami Mark” still commute to Motown via corp jet, or did the financial crisis torpedo that perk?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Fields seems like the definition of the all-talk “Hold me Back” kind of person. Plus, he looks like some Wall Street guy from 1988.

    Bill Ford should have let the hot-head all the way across the table. He wouldn’t have done anything to Leclair but yell some more swears his direction.

    And “Bold Moves” sucked.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    When you see some tool running around a business, saying bizarre things, wearing his hair like he is trapped in a decade prior to this one, physically attacking folks, swearing indiscriminately, that guy should be taken out back, fired and beaten OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I SAID

    • 0 avatar

      I was going to say that this was really funny: >>>because they were deemed to be the 21st century secular liberl version of buying indulgences from the Church too expensive. (everything betw “the 21st century liberal” and “too expensive” crossed out. And then Jack hit us with this… Damn! Thanks for my best laughs of the day so far.

    • 0 avatar

      tool or not, he has a point. when fields says, “When you run the f–king business, you can do it,” he is not referring to ford. running the business is ad guy speak for managing the advertising budget. he’s right. the cfo should stick to counting beans and not back seat drive the ad campaign.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        It’s a CFO’s job to judge the cost-effectiveness of major expenditures. I mean, it should also be the CMO’s job, but if the ad budget isn’t resuling in upticks elsewhere and Marketing isn’t going their job and looking at alternatives, then F&A is justified in asking questions.

        Advertising is a big chunk of a car company’s expenses, and unlike operational costs, it’s easier to cut.

  • avatar
    Slab

    Marketing guy and accounting guy in a disagreement? Color me shocked.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Derek – why is :
    “A look at Ford’s org chart shows that Fields and Leclair are on the same level, which makes Fields’ statement regarding running “the f—king business” all the more puzzling.”

    I assume Fields is saying that until (or if) Leclair was CEO and ran the company (or became marketing head) then he cannot cut the budget arbitrarily.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    When Bill Ford said “Cut it out”, his meaning was actually twofold: First, stop fighting; Second, make the “Bold Moves” cuts. Very efficient with words, Ford. He suggested “Drive One” be shortened to simply “Drive” or “One”, but was overruled.

  • avatar
    210delray

    This kind of stuff (minus the physical part) happens all the time, even at the small non-profit that I work for. One of the biggest foul-mouthed screamers, BTW a woman senior VP, retired the other day, thankfully.

  • avatar

    I think what Fields meant by “running the business” is that he was in charge of the entire unit for which the budget was being discussed, while the CFO, despite an equally high rank in the org chart, is part of the support staff, which serves in an advisory capacity.

    Writers are going to love Fields because he (allegedly) says and does stuff that’s fun to write about.

    My one encounter with Fields, a few years ago at the Chicago show, went like this:

    MK: I recently finished a thesis based on studying GM from the inside. A Ford engineer who read the executive summary wrote to comment that Ford suffers from the same problems.

    MF: Do you remember the name of the engineer?

    MK: Not offhand. And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.

    Which told me what Fields saw as the real problem. But we’re told that Mulally has changed Ford, and perhaps Fields with it. So perhaps he’d have a different response today.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    Mark Fields AKA Jac Nasser’s lap dog. If he gets in at the top of the heap at Ford, the taxpayer’s investment in GM almost looks good–almost. As far as MK’s story goes, I’m thinking the response he got was completely genuine and when all of “Mulally’s changes are undone, Fields is just the guy to undo them.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverHawk

      I fully expect MF to undo a host of Mulally’s changes. Being brought up doing it The Ford Way would tend to lead him in that direction. MF has been generally successful in his tours through the various Ford units, and behind his photogenic smile, lies a bubbling cauldron of ego driven ambition. While he understands the necessity of Mulally’s changes, he believes totally in the tried and tested Ford methods, and sees himself as the person to lead the company to future greatness.
      Bill Ford has total confidence in him, so the Mark Fields era seems inevitable.

  • avatar

    Mark “MKF” Fields is still the funniest joke I know

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      And the MkF moniker is funny too…

      But not as funny as the VoKuHiLa hair-wig and Muscle-Beach suit cut that MkF is so fond of wearing.

      True: MkF was interviewed once, and said that his dream-job would be to run the front office of the NY Yankees.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Maybe the “f-bomb” was just taking Bill Ford’s decision to have all models begin with the letter “F,” into his polemic.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Back in the 90s, when I graduated from UM Ann Arbor with an engineering degree and an MBA, Ford offered me a job. I turned it down and headed for wall street. Many I went to college with took the Ford offer, and have been miserable ever since. As far as I can tell, they never cracked the 200K mark. At this point, they are in their late 30s, and no one wants to hire an auto engineer. They just hope they make it to retirement. Best decision of my life.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’m a 48-yr-old engineer with an MBA, but still working as an engineer – happily, I might add. I will never ‘crack the 200K mark’. Guess I should have gone to Wall Street so I could despise my old friends.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        I don’t expect you to have any Grey Poupon to lend out then.

      • 0 avatar
        jimmyy

        I don’t despise my old friends. However, being a southern californian attending UM Ann Arbor, I found it strange how people from Michigan seemed to define utopia as working at Ford or GM. They even knew the names of auto executives and thought the entire world revolved around the auto companies. I felt sorry for them.

        As far as Wall Street, it has something that Detroit needs badly. At my Wall Street firm, 1/3rd of the workers are fired and replaced every year. The bottom 1/3rd goes out the door. The remaining 2/3rds are valuable and achieve 1% pay status. This should occur at the Detroit automakers. This would cause engineers and managers fix the reliability problems exposed by Consumer Reports, or get fired. Simple. Unfortunately, Michigan people have this concept of being owed a job for life.

      • 0 avatar

        jimmyy, “Unfortunately, Michigan people have this concept of being owed a job for life.”

        i probably shouldn’t take the bait but it’s too easy to resist. if you are going to follow this phony ayn rand thinking to its logical conclusion, all of you and all or your wall street buddies should be out of a job. the fact is that if it wasn’t for accounting tricks, all the large wall street firms would be insolvent.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Actually, ford did try this up or out strategy, ranking employees as A, B, or C, only problem was the program seemed to be throwing out mostly older people even though they tried to balance this, and the whole experiment resulted in a nervous and demoralized staff as well as a number of lawsuits. In the end, Jac Nasser was forced to give up this lousy idea.

  • avatar
    obruni

    topping out at $200k in NYC or SF Bay could be frustrating depending on your tastes.

    topping out at $200k in the Detroit Metro area sounds pretty good to me, however. and there are plenty of Europeans, including bankers, that would kill for €200k a year.


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