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Last of a Generation: William Clay Ford Passes at 88

Interests ranged from automobiles to the NFL.

by on Mar.10, 2014

William Clay Ford Sr. with the then-new Continental Mark II that is considered his most successful car.

To most of those who knew him, he was simply “Mr. Ford,” the dignified yet surprisingly modest man who had a long and surprisingly varied career that ranged from the automotive design studio to the football field – as well as a wide range of community activities.

William Clay Ford Sr. passed away on Sunday at his Michigan home after suffering from pneumonia, six days before his 89th birthday.  The father of current Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr., he was also the last surviving grandchild of the company’s founder, Henry Ford, and a bridge between two very different generations.

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“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” son William Clay Ford Jr., said in a statement. “He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.”


William Clay Ford, Ford Director Emeritus, Dies at 88

Owner of Detroit Lions was the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford.

by on Mar.09, 2014

William Clay Ford, the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford, died today at age 88.

William Clay Ford, the last surviving grandchild of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford, died this morning. Ford, who was Director Emeritus of the company, was 88 years old.

“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” said William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman, Ford Motor Co. “He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all.”

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Ford served in a variety of capacities during his 57-year career at the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker. He was named to the company’s board in 1948 and began working at the automaker after graduating from Yale in 1949. (more…)

Bill Ford Insists CEO Mulally Will Remain in Detroit

But new reports indicate Microsoft board continues to consider Ford chief exec.

by on Oct.02, 2013

CEO Alan Mulally with Chairman Bill Ford.

Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr. has stepped into the swirl surrounding reports that the automaker’s CEO Alan Mulally might soon leave for a job with Microsoft.

The 68-year-old Mulally was recruited from Boeing seven years ago and has been widely linked to the search for a new CEO by Microsoft which is also Seattle-based. In fact, despite Ford’s insistence, new reports by the Bloomberg news service indicate the computer giant’s board of directors is still actively considering Mulally as the replacement for CEO Steve Ballmer who announced in August plans to retire within a year.

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Don’t tell that to 56-year-old Ford Chairman Bill Ford, however. Asked about Mullaly’s possible move to Microsoft, he told Bloomberg Television that, “The plan is he’s going to stick around. I’m happy he’s sticking around.” But the Ford family heir quickly added that, “We also feel really good about where we are in terms of succession.”


Will Car Sales Plunge Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Washington’s deadlock could kill auto industry momentum.

by on Dec.31, 2012

GM Chairman Dan Akerson: "quite concerned" about the fast-approaching fiscal cliff.

Preliminary estimates suggest December will be one of the best months the U.S. auto industry has seen in years, with sales up by as much as 15% year-over-year – but in the final hours of 2012 industry officials seem worried that the good times could be over all too soon.

As one of the most expensive items a consumer will buy – and as a discretionary purchase that usually can be postponed – analysts anticipate the auto industry will see a severe drop-off in demand if Washington lawmakers fail to meet the midnight deadline and send the U.S. economy hurtling over the so-called fiscal cliff.

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“We’re watching (the negotiations in Congress) very closely,” General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said this month, adding that he is “quite concerned” there won’t be a settlement in time to prevent a sharp rise in taxes for the average American – along with significant cuts in critical spending programs.


All in the Family: The Ford’s Get Back World’s Oldest Ford

Third car off the line returns home after 109 years.

by on Dec.17, 2012

Henry Ford's great-grandson Ford Chairman Bill Ford with a 1903 Ford Model A.

While the Model T is perhaps the best-known product ever built by the Ford Motor Co. – and voted the “Car of the Century” by a group of automotive media and experts from around the world, it was actually the Model A that put the company in gear.

And a 1903 Model A Rear Entry Tonneau recently returned home after a circuitous, 109-year journey. Purchased at auction last October but only being displayed by the maker, it’s the oldest known surviving Ford vehicle.

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“The timing was perfect to bring this key part of Ford heritage back to the family as we celebrate the 150th anniversary of my great-grandfather’s birth and his vision to improve people’s lives by making cars affordable for the average family,” said Bill Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford and the family firm’s current chairman. “His vision to build cars that are reasonably priced, reliable and efficient still resonates and defines our vision today as well.”


Fields Named New Ford COO – But Mulally Remains CEO Until “At Least 2014”

Farley, four other senior execs get expanded duties.

by on Nov.01, 2012

Mark Fields becomes the new Ford COO and heir-designate to succeed CEO Alan Mulally.

Ford Motor Co. has come a step closer to resolving two of the most frequently heard questions in the automotive industry, but it has not given a complete answer as to when CEO Alan Mulally will step down – and who will succeed him.

But a strong clue emerged Thursday morning with news that Mark Fields, currently Ford’s President of the Americas, will become the maker’s new Chief Operating Officer, a position all but certain to ensure he eventually moves up upon Mulally’s retirement. But the 67-year-old CEO, clearly in no rush to leave, will pare back his day-to-day role but continue as Ford’s chief strategist and internal cheerleader.

“At least thru 2014. Whatever happens, Alan is here two more years. And we could go longer” Ford Chairman Bill Ford clarified when asked how long Mulally would stay. “Obviously, I love Alan. I’ve never enjoyed working with anyone so much (and) I’d like him to stay forever. But part of the manifestation of a great CEO is developing a great team.”

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So, from a day-to-day management perspective, the man in charge will now be 51-year-old Mark Fields, the Jersey Boy who many – including Mulally — credit with creating the “great elements” of a turnaround plan which helped Ford avoid bankruptcy, unlike its cross-town rivals General Motors and Chrysler.


Ford Opens New Silicon Valley Lab

Transforming the car into an open-source platform.

by on Jun.18, 2012

Ford's Sync system gave the maker a taste of what it could achieve working with the high-tech world.

Forget the Rust Belt, Ford Motor Co. is now officially a part of the high-tech world of the Silicon Valley.

Recognizing the rapidly increasing role of digital technology in the automobile, the automaker has opened up a new electronics research lab within a silicon chip’s throw of such high-tech giants as Apple, Google and Intel.

“We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” observed Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford during the formal dedication of the new lab in Mountain View, California. “Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades.”

Long associated with U.S. the industrial heartland, Ford has been expanding its global reach with a network of so-called “Research and Innovation” facilitiesin  Aachen, Germany; Nanjing, China; and its home in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.  It also has hired on technology scouts in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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“We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “We are looking for unexpected solutions for the future, and we believe Silicon Valley is the right place to round out our global research organization.


Bill Ford Wants to Turn Michigan into the “Silicon Valley of Mobility”

Emphasizes benefits of “green, smart technologies.”

by on May.31, 2012

Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr. believes Detroit and Michigan can shed their rust belt personna.

Can the Motor City shed its rust belt image and take on a persona more in line with high-tech communities like San Francisco, Palo Alto, California or Seattle? Yes, says Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, who contends Michigan, as a whole, can be repositioned as the “Silicon Valley of Mobility.”

In a sense, it’s a matter of been-there-done-that.  In its heyday, in the early years of the 20th Century, Detroit was the quintessential American boom town, much like Silicon Valley is today.  It was dubbed by many the “Paris of the Midwest” because of its art, architecture and sophisticated lifestyle.  But things began to rapidly decline in the post-War years and today some old industrial sites are being converted back to farmland.

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But in a speech during the annual Mackinac Policy Conference, Chairman Ford insisted continuing decline is not inevitable – especially if Detroit and Michigan embrace new “green, smart technologies.”

“To address this issue, we will once again need new technologies, as well as new ways of looking at the world.  We will need to view the automobile as one element of a transportation ecosystem,” the great-grandson of Ford founder Henry Ford declared.


Kuzak, Booth Stepping Down at Ford but Mulally Says “No Plans to Retire.”

Shake-up to have no impact on One Ford strategy.

by on Feb.09, 2012

Ford's Derrick Kuzak oversaw the unusual step of announcing a joint venture with Toyota -- whose Takeshi Uchiyamada is shown here.

Two of the most senior and respected members of the Ford Motor Co. management team will retire, the maker announced this morning, but CEO Alan Mulally stressed that he himself has “no plans to retire,” and insisted the executive shake-up will have no measurable impact on the way the Detroit maker operates.

Nonetheless, the 65-year-old Mulally made it clear that he is quietly grooming the next generation of Ford managers, including the executive who will eventually succeed him.

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This morning’s announcements involve a number of senior members of Ford’s management – but also sees a new name join the group, the company’s Board of Directors electing former Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman to their ranks.


Ford Hands Raises, Bonuses to White-Collar Workers

First raise since 2010.

by on Jan.19, 2012

Ford CEO Alan Mulally: time to share the wealth.

About 20,000 Ford workers will have reason to celebrate after receiving their first combination of merit raises and bonuses since 2008.

The announcement – first revealed in a letter to workers last week – reflects the maker’s increasing fortunes, Ford reporting $6.6 billion in earnings for the first three quarters and expecting to add about $1.7 billion more to that tally, according to analysts’ estimates, when it reports earnings for the last quarter later this month.

The raises, which will take effect on April 1 should average about 2.7% and apply to 20,000 salaried employees – most of them in the U.S. and Canada.

Workers were given performance bonuses last year, and merit raises in 2010.  The last time they received both bonuses and pay hikes was in 2008.

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White-collar workers have normally received substantial financial packages in the Detroit industry but pay and benefits were sharply curtailed during the years leading up to the Great Recessions, when both General Motors and Ford were forced into bankruptcy.  Ford was able to avoid a Chapter 11 filing by taking on about $30 billion in debt – which it is now rushing to pay down.