Dear Beach Ford Family,
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead
By 2006, the fortunes at the Ford Motor Company had turned for the worst. A gallant effort by Bill Ford, the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, to rescue the family company back from the excesses of Jac Nassir was not going well. Nassir was a Ford CEO who had forgotten what the Ford brand stood for in the early 2000’s by spending billions to acquire several foreign luxury auto makers. Decades of success and at times 30+% of the automobile market had made Ford a bloated, inefficient behemoth with territorial upper management and no clear direction – and this, all before Mr. Nassir went on his spending spree! From 2006 to 2008, Ford lost $30 billion. Bill Ford needed some help. No, he needed more than just help, he needed a lifeline.
Allan Mulally came to Ford in late 2006 and no one gave him much of a chance. You had to come up in the macho, testosterone driven, car business to even make an honest go of it, or so the narrative went in those days. Allan had been making airplanes for Boeing. He couldn’t possibly handle the complexity and sheer volume of one of the largest car companies on earth.
But Allan Mulally was different. He realized right away that the culture at Ford was not right and when senior managers would back-stab and sometimes even heckle each other in meetings, he would politely remind them that that was not part of his “One Ford” vision, not part of the new culture and not how things were going to get done, going forward.
He realized that Ford was a car company that, early in the previous century, had made cars and trucks that were as good as any in the world, but at a price that the average consumer could afford. He also realized that styling and content were important – people had to want to drive it! Smaller cars were not going to be “econo-boxes,” they were instead going to be nice cars for people who just wanted to drive a smaller car! He knew, most importantly and perhaps better than anyone else, that the name Ford still stood for something! It did not have to change its stripes or its identity to succeed. People in the late 2000’s, like people of any age, wanted safe, high-quality, smart, and affordable transportation. Allan Mulally, inspired the Ford Motor Company to give it to the world, again.
I could go on about a man who the MBA students will study for years to come. Under Allan Mulally, Ford has made $42.3 billion in net income, since 2009. His story has inspired several books about the comeback. He, single handedly, changed the street-hardened, uncooperative and inefficient culture at one of the largest industrial companies in history. I, myself, in the mid-2000’s had begun to think that no single CEO or Chairman of the Board or any charismatic person at Ford, could ever turn the problems around at the original American car company for the masses. I no longer believe that. I no longer believe that any one person can’t make all the difference in the world, in anything. Allan Mulally will step down as Ford’s CEO on July 1st 2014. He will hand over a company that he saved, mostly by himself.
Thank you for being a part of the Beach Ford Family,