By on October 12, 2010

I’m not a big fan of Ford. But you have to respect their turnaround. They took a huge gamble at a really, economically-speaking, dangerous time. What’s also hard to deny is Alan Mulally’s charisma and ability to get people to work together.

Without it, Ford would be tapping that line of credit they secured from the US government. Well, while I was reading the BBC website I came across this radio show, Global Business with Peter Day. And Alan Mulally was the guest for today’s episode. I found it very interesting and I hope you do too. Click on the link  to take you to listen.

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15 Comments on “A Nice Chat with Alan, The Ford Guy...”

  • avatar

    Just because you happen to be named after a Toyota doesn’t mean you have to be so hard on Ford.   (Sorry, couldn’t resist…)

  • avatar

    So what if they didn’t tap the government money? They’re leveraged up to their eyeballs as it is. No guarantees for them anymore than GM or Chrysler. Toyota, Honda, Hyundai are like animals steadily encroaching on wounded prey.

    I hope I’m wrong, but these companies represent the last bastion of American industry, defense contractors notwithstanding. How much longer they will survive at all, who knows, but I’m not encouraged by what I hear and read both online and in print (yes, Gutenberg, I still read hard copy!), because the general mood is not positive. Reserved at best.

    • 0 avatar

      The rot in the U.S. industrial base is worse than it appears.

      Guy I know has a friend who runs an aerospace sub-contracting firm in L.A.  According to the L.A. guy, the aerospace OEM’s have outsourced so much know-how that they too are hollowed-out and have lost key core-competences.

  • avatar
    nathan thurber

    Being a Ford fan for the past 20 years its nice to see them have a postive spotlight.  I have seen a change in perception among people as it is now “cool” to drive a ford, I hope they keep up the momentum and keep up the good work.


  • avatar

    Good catch Cammy. He lavished praise on Mark Fields, much to your displeasure I presume!

  • avatar

    I agree, AM has done a nice job and is a spectacular business leader and manager.
    And he should be rewarded, which he is, for doing what he has at such a large, inbred monster.
    I also think Bill Ford’s realization of his own weaknesses was remarkable as was the wise and humble move to replace himself with Mulally.

    I am curious, why would you not be a “fan” of Ford?
    I don’t expect you to wear a hat or sweater or have a rear window with the Ford logo.
    I personally wouldn’t for any brand.

    It’s not as if they profited the German or Rising Sun war machines.
    They seem to be more or less a US company.
    Yes, they play the big business/government shell game, but what company isn’t. I say a pox on any big company feasting at the government, any government) tit.

    And some of their cars are exceptional and some are doing a nice job in their segment, with or without the complete driver enthusiast’s blog approval on certain (read MKS/Taurus) models.

    What manufacturer would you be a fan/cheerleader of and why?

    • 0 avatar

      I drive a couple of cars from companies that profited from Hitler’s groundwork, but you just can’t look at it that way.
      American cars ultimately profited from the dual exploitation of stolen land and free labor, but those things happened long enough ago that we don’t readily recognize them.
      In a pure economic sense, I’m glad my purchase of good German cars lit a fire under America’s ass sufficient to produce (or at least import) the quality stuff coming from Ford, so next time around, I can buy a blue oval and be one more step removed from any human suffering or atrocity. ;)

    • 0 avatar


      I wasn’t trying to bash the others.
      I don’t think anybody should suffer the sins of their father.
      If they did, my kids got a whole lot of bad times coming.

      I was just trying to ask why Ford is not a favorite for any reason.

      I personally think there is no one manufacturer I can be a fan of.
      As a car lover, pine for many of each.
      So many makers and so many great choices from all of them and so little time.
      This is a sickness with me, almost. IF I was rich, Jay Leno’s garage would have nothing on my garage.
      I think all of them produce some ugly monsters and some fantastic gotta haves.

      Ford is that as well…to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Nearly classic case of the 3rd generation tanking the family business.  (To be honest, each Ford that sat in the top chair nearly bankrupt the company, HFI, HFII and Billy Jr.)

      Billy was backed into a corner by the Family.  Even his father’s largest block of class-B stock could not prevent this.  It was less insight or humility on his part and more an ultimatum on the part of the rest of the Family.

      As it was, they nearly waited too long and the situation nearly was irreversible.

  • avatar

    “is there anything that is not going well, we’re going to loose 17 billion dollars, is there anything” thats a great line

  • avatar

    Nicely done Cammy. He’s a little too quick with the corp speak but his ideas are good and of course, he’s implemented brilliantly. Nobody’s mentioned the bodies at the wayside though.

    I think that Ford is going to come out of this quite nicely. Their biggest problem will be his replacement. It could backslide if one of the oldtimers gets the top job. It bears watching in the years ahead.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s been my worry as well, whether he can embed this management style sufficiently before he retires that it becomes a way of life, or whether Ford will revert to the bad old ways once he’s gone.
      You really have to have lived at Ford for a while (I was there for an entire career of 29 years) to understand how deeply dysfunctional it could be at its worst.  Marketing, Finance, Product Development, Manufacturing, all spent quality time firing memo bombs around Dearborn.  North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America all needed unique platforms and drivetrains (typified by the fact that the original Escort shared I think two parts with its European forebear by the time the North American PD types were done, and by the idea that Australia – industry volume somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million in a good year – needed all unique platforms and an engine plant to build engines that weren’t sold anywhere else besides maybe New Zealand).
      When I was a young Finance supervisor at Ford Credit, my Assistant Controller boss explained to me that reporting bad news across the street to the Parent was to be avoided at all costs, because that would just result in “help” arriving from Finance Staff, which would mostly involve headcount tasks rather than anything actually useful (to be fair, we were honest in our reporting to Ford Credit management – they were mostly experienced credit guys who could look through the management reports as well as we could and knew where the problems were – it was just Ford management who had to be kept in the dark).
      I believe Alan is a talented executive who has achieved a remarkable turnaround in the way Ford works day to day.  I just hope the change is institutionalized.
      And, as mentioned upthread, a shoutout to Bill Ford, who recognized that he wasn’t the one who could do what had to be done, and turned over the power to Alan.

  • avatar

    Not into listening to Big Al over the Marconi?
    Prefer to rub French cuff links with him over Capers?
    Seattle.  November. Be there.

  • avatar

    Sounds like they’ve rediscovered Deming’s principles which Ford once embraced, but GM never has.
    Truthtelling is a rare feature in corporate America.

  • avatar

    good interview, worth listening to. thanks.

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