By on April 22, 2014
Mark Fields, Ford Group VP Derrek Kuzak, Bill Ford Jr., Alan Mulally

Mark Fields, Ford Group VP Derrek Kuzak, Bill Ford Jr., Alan Mulally

Two of the most reliable reporters on the automotive beat, Karl Henkel and David Shepardson of the Detroit News, have reported that their sources confirm that Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally will step down later this year and that Mark Fields, Ford’s chief operating officer, will be named to the CEO position. Earlier on Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Ford “may announce the moves as soon as May 1.” Ford’s annual corporate meeting is scheduled for May 8 in Delaware, with the FoMoCo board of directors meeting the prior day. Mulally, 68, has been with Ford since 2006 and he’s generally credited with successfully guiding the automaker through the troubled waters that brought crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler to bankruptcy and a government bailout.

The move is seen by most as a formality and that Fields, 53, has been assured of replacing Mulally since he was promoted from President of the Americas to COO in late 2012. Mulally has previously said publicly that he plans to remain as Ford’s CEO through at least 2014. Other than a stint at IBM, Fields has been at Ford for most of his adult life, having joined the company 25 years ago.

A Ford Motor Company spokesperson declined to confirm or deny the reports.

So that’s the boilerplate news. In the background of the story, though…Ever since Fields started ascending the corporate ladder and was seen as a possible CEO at Ford, is the fact that Mark Fields is Jewish and the founder of the company, Henry Ford, was one of the 20th century’s most notorious anti-semites. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that 100% of the articles published in major news sources about the announcement, when it is made, will mention Fields’ religion and Henry Ford’s anti-semitism. Henkel and Shepardson’s DetNews piece certainly did.

That prejudice is a historical fact. In 1920, the Dearborn Independent, a newspaper controlled by Henry Ford, started publishing a series titled The International Jew, claiming that there was a worldwide conspiracy by Jews to control the world. Seven years later, under pressure from his son Edsel and other business associates, Henry would make a public apology, but the damage to Ford’s image was done. Growing up in and around Detroit, I can’t recall any of my friends’ parents driving Ford products before the 1970s. I’ve known Jews, the children of Holocaust survivors, who bought German cars before they would consider a Ford product.

dearborn-independent

To be fair, it should be said that Henry Ford was not an exterminationist Jew-hater, like Adolf Hitler was, though the two admired each other to some extent. Ford had good working relationships with Jews like architect Albert Kahn and he was friendly with his neighbor in Detroit’s Boston-Edison district, Rabbi Leo Franklin of Detroit’s biggest Reform Jewish temple, Beth El. In fact, Ford was perplexed when, following the publication of The International Jew, Franklin returned the Model T that Henry gifted to him, something Ford ecumenically did every year for all of the most prominent clergymen in Detroit. Henry, it seems, divided world Jewry into two groups, the “good Jews”, those whom he knew personally, and the conniving boogeymen of his imagination. Remember, Henry Ford was an uneducated farm boy who made good and he retained most of his beliefs, biases and prejudices all of his life.

Henry didn't like jazz. "Jewish Jazz - Moron Music" is what his newspaper called it. With one of his great grandchildren married to a Jew and another married to a black, Henry must be spinning faster than a Model T crankshaft.

Henry didn’t like jazz. “Jewish Jazz – Moron Music” is what his newspaper called it. With one of his great grandchildren married to a Jew and another married to an African-American, Henry must be spinning faster than a Model T crankshaft.

So it’s true that Henry was a crackpot and a Jew hater. However, Henry Ford has been dead since 1947 and his family has gone out of its way to right his wrongs. I’ve written before here at TTAC about how Henry Ford II cultivated close personal relationships with Jews and between Ford Motor Co. and the Jewish community, how the Deuce was personally generous to Jewish philanthropies (and FoMoCo did likewise at his lead), and how in 1973, at the height of the Yom Kippur War, Henry II personally arranged for Ford of Europe to ship trucks and trailers to Israel because they were needed to move tanks to the battle fronts.

Fields’ comments about not experiencing any discrimination at the Ford company ring true to what I have heard from personal friends who have worked there in the past few decades. Fields is also not the only high level Jewish executive at Ford Motor Company. Neil M. Schloss has been Vice President and Treasurer of Ford Motor Co. since 2007.

I see the appointment of a Jew to the CEO job at Ford as more of a non-issue than anything else. Yes, it’s worth noting because of the history involved, but 2014 is not 1920. It’s a different world, Ford Motor Company is a different company that it was under Henry and I’m sure that Bill Ford and his cousins (who collectively control Ford Motor Company) don’t care what Fields’ religion is as long as he does a good job running the company.In light of the fact that one of the Ford cousins is married to a Jew and has donated a Torah scroll to the temple they attend, my guess is that many in the family will be happy about Fields taking the job. A dark corner in their family history has been turned.

Let me be the first to wish a hearty Mazal Tov to Mark Fields, to his kvelling parents, to the Ford family and to Ford Motor Company.

* The term “anti-Semite” was coined by Wilhelm Marr, who was looking for a more polite term than “Jew-hater” to describe his opposition to Jewish political emancipation in 19th century Germany, so he pulled a word from linguistics, which references “Semitic” languages that include Hebrew, Ugaritic etc. Since Marr’s euphemism was intended to make him and his ilk look better and because some modern day Jew-haters have appropriated the term to fraudulently claim that Arabs are also victims of “anti-Semitism”, I prefer to call a spade a shovel.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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72 Comments on “Mark Fields To Replace Alan Mulally, As Ford CEO: We Wish Him Mazel Tov...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I dated a girl who was a holocaust nudnik. She dumped me while we were eating an eggplant entree.

    Now I hate eggplant but I don’t care who’s Jewish.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      That seems rude. It’s better form to break up before the meal.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, did she have the decency to pick up the check?

      I remember going on a date with a woman. She brings religion up.

      “So, where do you go to church?”
      “Well, I don’t go to church per se. I go to a synagogue.”
      “What’s that?

      (Iceberg, dead ahead!!!!)

      “It’s where Jews worship.”
      “You’re Jewish? What do you guys believe anyway”?

      (Captain, we’ve struck the iceberg!)

      “Pretty much the same things Christians do – God, Moses, Noah, the Ten Commandments, all that – but we don’t believe Jesus is the son of God.”
      “Well, that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

      At that point, I told her I had to go, walked out, and stuck her with the check. And then she started calling me once a day, telling me how much she liked me.

  • avatar
    AKM

    In my opinion, Mark Fields religion doesn’t matter one bit. It never matters as long as it doesn’t conflict wit hthe task at hand.

    However, Marc Fields committed actual offenses, mostly against hair decency, but I remember a few years ago that the guy seemed more agressive than competent. I hope, for Ford’s sake, that I am wrong or that he changed

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Interesting thoughts, Ronnie. We’ve come a long way for it to not matter, but not far enough yet because it’s been brought up.

    I am in charge of hiring in a very diverse educational community. Goal #1 is always hire the best candidate…who adds to our blend. It’s amazing watching a table of diverse interview committee folks discuss non-resume and experience factors.

    Fields has been a good soldier and paid his dues. He’s done Europe, and learned at the elbow of Mulally. He toned down the Camaro-esque haircut and curtailed the ‘flying home to Florida every weekend’ flamboyance.

    By all indications he’s a pretty bright guy.

    Mazel tov indeed.

    • 0 avatar
      gmichaelj

      Ok, so I’m asking from an ORGANIZATIONAL ARCHITECTURE perspective, not a political one:

      >”Goal #1 is always hire the best candidate…who adds to our blend.”

      How do you not just pick the best person and leave it at that?

      Based on what I have read, it seems that Mr. Fields has indeed earned his spot, so I don’t want to get lost in worrying about him per se, but don’t we owe it to everyone we work with to hire the best person, so that we are working with the best people everyday?

      As diversity works its way up the corporate ladder, will organizations get stuck with second or third best at the top because he/she “adds to the blend?”

      I’d be annoyed working for someone who didn’t understand all of the issues, but blended. EDIT: Mary seemed out of her depth at the hearings. AGAIN, I’m trying to focus on personnel, not politics.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        The tack I take is what are the life experiences and prior jobs that will best serve any gaps we have in our current blend. I know that sounds like the lamest tree hugging holistic shit ever short of a TM course, but it has worked rather successfully for us.

        Not always…I’ve hired a few folks where we’ve had to part ways.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Mark Fields was the prospective CEO way back in 2006 Ford ended up hiring Mulally. This is basically a non event at this point. He’s been there through 2 generations of product with Mulally and should be able to carry on what Mulally built.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Remember, Henry Ford was an uneducated farm boy who made good and he retained most of his beliefs, biases and prejudices all of his life.

      Also remember, President Woodrow Wilson was president of Princeton University and a former New Jersey governor who was considered one of the brightest progressives in the US, yet he also retained most of his beliefs, biases and prejudices all this life as well. However, instead of being anti-Semitic, Wilson was a full-boat racist. After a half century of advancement in civil rights after the Civil War, Wilson was the first Democrat to actively reinforce segregation, continue Jim Crow laws, fight anti-lynching laws, re-segregate the US military, and cater to every Southern Democrat bigotry in order to win his election in 1912 and reelection in 1916. He was still president in 1920.

      So, Henry Ford was an ignorant genius and Woodrow Wilson was an Ivy-League educated bigot.

      Since we give Wilson a break on his prejudices while holding our nation’s highest office, I think we need to give Ford a break as well. Also – I don’t recall anyone mentioning how horrible Woodrow Wilson was in his bigotry and hatred when our first African American president took office a century later.

      Wow – what I would give to see Wilson’s puckered scowl when Obama got elected. Same party too.

      Give old ignorant Henry a break.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        holeee hell. I think I’m seeing a ghost. Stick around and comment more often, VanillaDude. You have been missed.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        Vanilladude! My favorite poster! You haven’t lost a step, either.

        Yeah. Wilson was a bigot. it wasn’t skin-deep or political expedience either. He segregated Washington D.C. and approved the Palmer raids. I guess what it boils down to is that Wilson was fundamentally a jerk while Ford fundamentally was not.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    “Mulally, 68, has been with Ford since 2006 and he’s generally credited with successfully guiding the automaker through the troubled waters that brought crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler to bankruptcy and a government bailout.”

    Well, he didn’t take government money, but Ford was in as bad shape as GM would later be, so yes, he gets a lot of credit for that and what Ford did do was quite a gamble, and they’re not hated for it.

    Lesson: don’t EVER take government money, or you’ll be hated on the blogosphere forever!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      The strategy at Ford was basically mortgage everything to stay solvent. Fortunately for them it did work.

      I’m still in the camp that says Ford has been better managed in an economic crisis for at least the last 30+ years. In the early 80s “Reagan Recession” the company came closer to bankruptcy than many realized at the time but they learned from that.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Totally agree with you, PrincipalDan. GM could’ve learned something from Ford that may have had a more positive outcome.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “The strategy at Ford was basically mortgage everything to stay solvent. Fortunately for them it did work. ”

        And the reason it worked was that they did it before the credit markets collapsed. If they’d waited, they’d have been in the same boat as GM and Chrysler.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          After Ford had wrapped up its credit package, lenders asked GM leadership if it wanted to arrange similar financing. GM turned them down, explaining that its (latest) turnaround program and slew of new models would save the say. Oops…

          Ford didn’t just “get lucky” by having its financing in place before credit markets collapsed. Ford arranged that financing because it realized that the company needed a complete makeover, and its internal forecasts showed that the economy was due for a recession. Ford leadership realized that the company couldn’t survive any downturn that happened during the restructuring, unless it had additional cash.

          GM completely ignored warnings that the economy was due for a recession. It also ignored its own history, as each new slate of models that were supposed to reverse market share losses and restore profitability had, in fact, failed to do so.

          It was more than luck that saved Ford and sunk GM. It was good prior planning and a dose of humility on the part of the former, and a lack thereof on the part of the latter.

          • 0 avatar
            ect

            Actually, looking at GM’s financial reports shows that, at the time Ford put its now-famous credit package together, GM had already pledged every asset it had to secure debt previously taken out to fund operating losses.

            GM didn’t replicate the Ford move because they no longer had the capacity to do so. Whether they would have, had things been different, we’ll never know.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Geeber, I think that’s a case of not being able to foresee the market (or not being able to foresee it correctly). If GM had known the credit crunch was forthcoming, maybe they’d have made a made a move similar to Ford’s (but, honestly, GM was in such bad shape that they may not have been able to). But in any case, GM wasn’t alone in not seeing the credit freeze of ’08 coming – a lot of VERY large companies didn’t either. I mean, good Lord – if Lehman Brothers, which helped CREATE this mess, didn’t see this coming, how would GM?

            And, yeah, there really was a “slew of new models would save the day.” Look at their pipeline in 2006 – the Lambda SUVs, the second-gen Cadillac CTS, the 2008 Chevy Malibu, the Cruze and Equinox, the Buick Lacrosse and Regal, and the whole GMT 900 platform pickups and SUVs (Silverado/Sierra/Yukon/Suburban/Tahoe/Escalade). That’s a solid slate of product, and most of it is still around (and selling well) today. So, when GM said they had good stuff coming, clearly they weren’t whistling Dixie. If they’d gone to the government in 2009 with the same old garbage they’d been selling in 2006, I think there’s a fair chance the government would have sent them packing.

            Like any other endeavor, business sometimes hinges on good timing. Ford’s timing was excellent.

          • 0 avatar

            > GM completely ignored warnings that the economy was due for a recession.

            This works about as well as batters who are “due”.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Companies aren’t traders or psychics. It’s not really their job to predict economic cycles that closely, so much as it is to avoid egregious errors.

            In any case, GM was in trouble, with or without a recession. The recession only dug the hole that much more quickly (and unfortunately was so bad that we were forced to bail out GM.)

            The bonds were already rated as junk before the economy imploded. It’s wise to watch bond ratings — the bond watchers are less excitable than the equity guys.

      • 0 avatar
        gmichaelj

        Ford is also in debt up to its eyeballs, GM is not. If some great need arises for a big investment in a unforeseen technology, or to cover another economic downturn, or to invest in Lincoln: Ford is played out.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          And why does GM not have debt… bankruptcy.

          I still argue that Ford as an institution and organizational culture is much healthier than GM, therefore is more likely to be able to deal with the shifting economic sands.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            I agree with you qualitatively about respective Management, but looking at Yahoo Finance:

            GM is $36B in debt, with $27B in cash, while
            Ford is $115B in debt, with $25B in cash

            That’s a big differential to overcome.

            As for operational size:
            GM has $155B in Revenues, while
            Ford has $147B in Revenues

          • 0 avatar
            Chris FOM

            Ford got to keep their credit arm because they avoided bankruptcy, GM did not. The overwhelming amount of Ford’s debt is in their credit company and is earning them gobs of money. It’s not “real” debt in terms of how we normally think of the term.

          • 0 avatar
            gmichaelj

            @ Chris FOM

            Thanks for that, I see from EdgarOnline 10-Ks, that GM has only $14B in Receivables, vs $77B for Ford. I can’t dive much further because I don’t have the tools/time for it.

            Do you know if those numbers are apples to apples?

            I do see that GM Net Income to Common is $3.8B Vs Ford of $7.16B, while EBITDA is roughly the same at $12B each. I still think the $80B debt differential is huge and hamstrings Ford.

            EDIT: Thinking about it some more, I guess the real differential here would be about $20B if Ford has $80B more in debt, but $60B more in receivables. If they are earning about $3B more each year off those additional receivables, then it will still take several years to make up the $20B difference.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      We must not forget that the Ford family controls Ford, even though they own only around 6-7% of the stock.

      Had Ford entered into the same type of bailout as GM and Chrysler, the family’s control of the company, and their equity, would have been wiped out.

      Ford was motivated to do everything possible to avoid going through a reorganization, in a way that neither GM nor Chrysler was.

      They were also helped by the fact that they had a solid pipeline of new models coming to market in the 2008-2010 period, which neither GM nor Chrysler did.

      Still, full kudos to Mulally and his team for pulling it off. In the circumstances, they did remarkably well, and deserve the credit they’ve gotten for it.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Didn’t Ford borrow $5.9B from the Government just before the GM bankrupcy?

      Have they paid it back, like Tesla paid theirs back?

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        That didn’t come from the TARP program, it came from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program run by the Department of Energy. Nissan also qualified for the low interest loan. It wasn’t bailout money but a normal program, one of many put out by the DOE. It was more successful than the DOE’s loans to Solyndra and Fisker, since Ford is still in business and able to pay it back when due.

  • avatar
    chainyanker

    Every time I see an article about Mulally, there’s a photo of him standing next to the product with his hand resting on it like a proud father. It’s a small gesture but that’s the image that come to mind when I hear his name.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Anyone is better than Mulally, good luck to Fields turning the titanic away from the ice berg.

    • 0 avatar
      korvetkeith

      How so?

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Don’t mind him. He’s just mad about the Ecoboosts and less vehicles with bodies on ladder frames.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        They are losing money in Europe, and continually putting money into European products.
        Meanwhile, While America provides the vast majority of fords revenue, our regional products are being dropped unless their profit is outstanding. All under the premise of “one Ford”.
        The products being offered, while creating hype are proving to be poor quality. MFT is still a disaster, turbo engines aren’t able to provide real world FE gains, F trucks are being made now with thinner gauge frames if not equipped with tow packages… Ummm what?
        I’d say something about their engines but they’re about to be updated so I’ll hold. Truck prices are rising yet the cars losing money in Europe aren’t? Lincoln isn’t being given any development money, everything is Ford derived. They have the number 1 selling work vans… Lets cancel them for poor selling euro vans… Seriously? How uncompetitive have they allowed the expedition to get against GMs offerings? It’s one thing to offer it as a cheap alternative but the price keeps rising on it.
        Ford America is providing the revenue, and the company returns the favor by screwing our product line.
        That is my displeasure in Mulally.

        • 0 avatar
          bkrell

          Gotta agree on some of this, at least. Ford offers NOTHING to compete w/ the Suburban/Yukon XL twins. I want to take my family fleet all Ford but the sticking point is nothing we WANT to drive that will carry all the kids and cargo. They need to ax that stupid FLEX now and divert that money into a real Suburban fighter. Now that they have better engine and weight-saving tech, do Excursion 2.0 (minus the name). I’m in my late 30′s and the Flex looks like something you might jump into wearing Bugle Boy jeans and an awesome Jimmy’z t-shirt. Did Chip Foose design it? And Lincoln….oh, Lincoln… Plus, some of these hybrids Ford is pouring all of this time and energy (and snarky commercials) into….I never see any on the road!

          • 0 avatar
            86er

            Nonsense, the Expedition EL (Max in Canada and Mexico) has been on sale since ’07.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which itself dates to 2003. Ford built something like 38K Expedition units in 2013. Tahoe and Yukon alone moved 111,084 in the same year, not even counting Suburban.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Expedition

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevy_Tahoe

          • 0 avatar
            bkrell

            Yep and compare the two. Plus, the EL has at least 3 cubes less behind the 3rd row compared to the 2014 ‘Burban. No idea on the new one. But that’s a decent amount less. The Expedition doesn’t even look nice next to an F-150…

            And I’m a Ford guy!

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I disagree with your assessment of the Flex. It may not be a sales leader, but the demographics of the people that purchase the Flex are good for Ford. Half have never driven a Ford before and most Flex buyers are affluent and married. People that own a Flex also really like it. It will probably die anyway though.

            As far as the Expedition/Navigator, the one to buy is still a few years off. They will move to the current F150 platform between 2017 and 2019. Derek has posted about the Ford SUV twins going aluminum a few times now. The F150 and SuperDuty were more important to get done over this year and next.

            Neither GM or Ford make a HD/Super Duty SUV anymore. I would like to see the Excursion return, but its not happening in the next five years.

          • 0 avatar
            bkrell

            The thing with the Flex is it reminds me of the Hondas I’ve owned. You have to get passed the exterior. When I bought my last Mustang, I told the saleslady she should cut my wife a good deal on the Navigator b/c that’s the only way she would buy one. She offered up a Flex, instead. My wife’s reflexive reaction was “Hell no!” based on the exterior looks. But when I looked at the interior, I thought to myself that it looked just as good and well-made as my wife’s Odyssey.

            I actually LIKE the current Navigator but it’s just not competitive enough. And w/ no big changes for the new one…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My wife said the same thing about the Flex. Once she got in one she was sold. We decided on the weirder looking MKT after driving both. Her only complaint with the MKT is that the TPMS sensors go off more than any vehicle shes ever had. The weather in Michigan plus the fact that its a 5000 lb vehicle on 20s may do that.

          • 0 avatar
            bkrell

            I really like the MKT for some reason but you and I (and some funeral homes)appear to be among a lonely few. Part of my wife’s disdain may be the fact that her mother has driven Lincolns ever since my wife was in grade school. Gotta admit, it was pretty awesome to go on a family trip w/ them in the late 90′s and open up the ’96 Town Car on the Indian Nation Turnpike in Oklahoma. Even if I’d tried to get them to buy an Aurora instead…

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I don’t agree with Fields being selected for CEO unless Mulally is on the board of directors and Fields’ power is limited to keep him from mucking anything up. In addition to his stubbornness with the Bold Moves marketing campaign, I just don’t have a good feeling about this, particularly when GM and Chrysler are on top of their game.

    This is the wrong time to upset what Mulally oversaw and put together over the past 8 years. One misstep and Fields and those holding F like I am right now, will pay.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      I see your point, but don’t forget that there is a large bloc of Class B shares, and they’re all owned by a single entity. The same entity that hand-picked Mulally to manage and protect the family fortune during a pretty severe economic storm.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ford family has thoroughly briefed Fields to not screw things up, and at the same time We can hope they’ve given him enough autonomy to be an effective leader.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        I think when Mulally took over he grabbed Fields by the collar and said, “shut up, watch, and listen or you’re out on your ass.” To the guy’s credit, he did.

        Personally, I have a vague distrust that Fields will revert to his showboat ways. He’s an alpha male and he probably doesn’t think Bill Ford has the cojones to take him on.

        I’ll say this — if Ford execs start getting ridiculous perks, new jets and the top suites in Dearborn get remodeled at millions of dollars cost, dump your F stock. I will.

        All that is snarky and unfair, though. Fields is the one responsible for all Ford US launches of the last five years. The cars themselves are good, but which of those launches have gone smoothly? What happens with the F150, the Mustang, and whatever replaces MyFordTouch and how it affects consumers will tell us a lot about Fields’ leadership.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Spartan – all three domestics have a ways to go before they are at the top of their game. Ford has to continue to improve their electronics and reliability (We have a Ford Edge. It won’t be replaced with another Ford product). Chrysler is certainly making some great products, but keep in mind Fiat financially is heavily leaning on Chrysler for support. Ditto for GM, but their troubles with the ignition issue have just started – it may end up a non-issue in the eyes of the public, or it may repel the last vestiges of GM buyers.

      It’s all a house of cards…

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      Fields has been unde Mulally’s wing for a long time now, I’m sure he can handle the job. If not, I doubt Bill Ford will be slow with the trigger finger. He just got this company put back together and isn’t going to let anyone mess it up again.

      Also, what game is GM on top of? They have some compotent products, but nothing really class leading. They also still make awful, awful decisions all of the time. See their European strategy over the past 5 years.

      • 0 avatar
        bkrell

        IMHO, GM has really turned Cadillac around. But I think it’s still got a way to go. I can count on one hand the number of ATS’s I’ve seen on the roads where I live. If I were more practical, I could see myself daily driving an Impala or Regal in a heartbeat. Ironically, as my opinion of GM car lines has increased, their trucks have lost all appeal to me. The last model Chevy Silverado always looked like a gold-toothed rapper with that garish grill. Ford seems to be outselling the Chevy/GM twins in my area in droves. White, Platinum Edition F-150s seem to be the new upscale truck of choice.

  • avatar

    I saw Mark Fields speak at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington a few years ago and was impressed, although I did have to wonder how much time he was spending in the tanning salon instead of at work. The story then was he was also commuting from Florida on a Ford executive jet since he did not want to live near the company HQ in Michigan, something I would have found annoying if I was a Ford shareholder but never mind. It never occured to me that he was Jewish nor does it seem very important nowadays but I do see the irony given the Founding Ford’s personal history. Of course, Henry was juat a growed-up farmboy with the usual prejudices, such as getting on his moral high horse while keeping a long-time mistress, as Ronnie has related eslewhere, and hounding his intelligent and well-liked son to an early grave. But it could have been worse: check out the Quandt family (controlling shareholders of BMW) and their history.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      With the Quandt family (Gunther especially):

      German Industrialist during the 30s and 40s = Nazi war machine maker

      • 0 avatar

        Of course, one difference is that the Quandts, unlike Krupp and Flick and some of the others, somehow never faced a war crimes trial for their battery-making operations. Until recently they refused to open their archives so researchers went around them and dug out documents (their contract with the SS for a supply of concentration camp inmates with an expected “replacement rate” of 50 percent monthly due to working conditions) from widespread sources inside of Germany. None of the industrialists convicted of war crimes came out badly: Alfried Krupp got released and got the steel company back and Friedrich Flick became the richest man in West Germany, the majority owner of Daimler-Benz and one of the richest men in the world by the 1950s.

  • avatar
    NN

    I had no idea and would consider this a non-issue anyways. Sure I understand the historical precedent but shouldn’t we all expect this? If he weren’t given the position strictly because of his religion, then that would be news. I hope the press doesn’t report on this as much as you suspect, because that in itself shows we haven’t come as far as we’d like to hope.

    • 0 avatar
      NN

      continuing…My point is that many people today don’t know the difference between a Jew and a non-Jew, and the world is a better place for it. Each time someone has to go out and define them or separate them for some reason it creates an opportunity for prejudice.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Certainly ironic, but all that significant? Not really.

    But bigotry at Ford is a lot more recent than Henry I’s time – Lee Iacocca wrote that the company wouldn’t promote a Jewish executive, and apparently Iacocca’s Italian lineage definitely put a burr under Henry II’s saddle.

    Good to know things have changed.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Henry Ford II became increasingly disenchanted with Iacocca’s leadership in the 1970s, and not without reason. I’m sure that Iacocca’s Italian heritage didn’t help, but it’s not as though Ford didn’t have other reasons to fire him in 1978.

      Iacocca had grown complacent and arrogant at Ford by the mid-1970s. As one of Iacocca’s team members put it, by the mid-1970s, Iacocca needed a kick in the pants, and Henry Ford II gave it to him by firing him. Henry Ford II not only ended up saving Chrysler (as Iacocca wouldn’t have gone there if he hadn’t been fired from Ford), but also saving Ford, as Iacocca would never have approved the changes made by Philip Caldwell and Donald Petersen in the early 1980s.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        I agree. Iacocca had a lot more to do with why Ford’s cars were so bad and increasingly uncompetitive in the early-late Seventies than Hank the Deuce.

        Once Lido got rid of Bunkie Knudsen, he took care of his own and let the good times roll. Going to Chrysler humbled him.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Let’s be honest: ALL Detroit cars were bad in the mid-70s. It was a toxic stew of regulations, expensive gas, and bad labor relations.

          By the late ’70s, Ford had brought out a LOT of far better product (well, by the standards of the day, at least). That stuff was all developed during Iacocca’s tenure.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I disagree here. Iacocca left in 1978, so judge him by what was in the pipeline at that time – the Fox and Panther platform cars. I seem to recall those all being big sellers.

        And Iacocca also pushed for another product that would have probably been a huge hit for Ford: the minivan. The Deuce turned that one down. As you say, Ford’s loss was Chrysler’s gain.

        Would Iacocca have greenlit the Taurus and Sable? Good question. He was always a sucker for ersatz luxury. Then again, he greenlit the LH cars at Chrysler, and those were not conservative designs by any means. Neither was the minivan.

        I think it was definitely a clash of personalities that drove Iacocca out.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          You’re right. I did forget that the Fairmont was out and already a hit when Iacocca was fired in June 1978. The first Panther and Fox Mustang were in production that summer, and the redesigned F-series came a year later. So yes, maybe I’m being unfair about his complacency.

          Ford certainly was in complete disarray right after Iacocca left. They contended with the fuel crisis, the Pinto crisis, the economic collapse and the shift to the Japanese cars.

          For about 2 years through mid-1980, Henry II grabbed and held his throne tightly while all hell broke less internally. Once his family and top investors forced him out in favor of Philip Caldwell and Petersen, the next-gen of really good Fords took shape.

  • avatar

    Now if only Ford will acquire Bugatti; I’m dying to use the headline, ‘Oy Veyron!’.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I’m honestly a little taken back about discussing the Ford anti-semite issues with Fields being a Jewish. The sheer amount of turnover from Henry Ford I to now is incredible let alone just 20 years ago. If anything being Jewish hasn’t been a huge issue in the last 30 years to enter the top end of corporate executive power. Being a woman or a person of color is still persona non-gratis. But to inadvertently ( I’m going to assume so because to imply otherwise would be yellow journalism)imply that Fields got the job based on Judaism or some such implication seems odd. If anything it seems to be a strictly management decision to use an internally groomed executive to succeed to the top position. It’s always odd when the CEO is somebody from outside the system because that implies that the current corporate setup is designed to manage funds and not actually build products, that in effect a company’s goal is to make money and not provide a service or product, that is a byproduct of profit which is actually counter to most economic thought….

    But I digress, I wish him all the luck in the world. I tend to prefer Ford products even now.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      40 years ago it was rare to see any Jews as prominent executives in the Big Three auto companies. Vendors? Sure, and Detroit has a large Jewish community, but the perception that the top spots were closed off to Jews persisted well past the end of WW II. As a result, the talent stayed away. Glad that’s changed.

      I don’t care about Mark Fields’ heritage. I just hope he’s serious about doing a good job, because I have my doubts.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Every new guy has doubts surrounding him. Mulally had people doubting that his Boeing experience translated to cars, and that he knew enough about Ford’s bureaucratic overburden to change the company’s course. Fields was too young and brash to take over in 2006, but he may be just mellowed out enough to do a decent job, with the next few years already plotted out for him, and a management record to guide him.

  • avatar
    skor

    “Henry, it seems, divided world Jewry into two groups, the “good Jews”, those whom he knew personally, and the conniving boogeymen of his imagination.”

    Henry divided world Jewry into Jews who wanted to be Muricans first, and the Jewish internationalists.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    No way for an outsider to know who is good and who is bad. I kinda like Ford right now. Their cars are basically well-designed but a little quirky. Obviously no marketing guy had much to say about the Flex. I take that as a sign that engineers are in charge over there and as a consumer I find it reassuring.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    That division between Group X as abstract and an individual you know who happens to belong to Group X is a much wider thing and is still around today.

    I’m the grandson of two midwest farm families, and at times family gatherings can be replete with casual racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs. Then one of the cousins comes out of the closet and everyone is nice to their significant other.

    It’s a strange dissonance and one I didn’t really even twig to until I moved away. But what’s funny is that I strive to not paint people with those kind of broad brushstrokes due to their ethnicity and such but occasionally catch myself applying it in other ways, like “Oh, he works in Building 9? Those guys are all idiots.” Or that I’m more likely to give spare change to someone wearing a baseball cap featuring a team that I like. Sure, it’s much more benign than advocating violence against groups because of their religion, but it’s really the same thing, just at the other end of the spectrum.

    It makes me wonder how ingrained it is in our nature, to have that distinction of “Other”.


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