FORD MOTOR COMPANY: AN AMERICAN GEM
It's not just Ford that we've been hearing so much about in recent news when it comes to America's automakers. The "Big Three," as they are affectionately called, have all been part of some of the biggest news stories of the past year. But it's definitely Ford that we've been hearing the best news about. And I think that's a good thing. Too much in America these days, and especially the stuff we make in America gets the short end of the stick. It's everyone's good time more often than not to marry the two words "American" and "crap" in the same sentence. You really can't say that about Ford.
There's no secret that Ford Motor Company has been the maker behind the best-selling truck brand in America for the past 31 years and running. The F-150 is as American as hot apple pie, and perhaps as endeared. And there's no secret, either, as to why this is true. It's got a great track record, it's tough as hell, and it's a great looking truck to boot. I can't think of a single reason why any hot blooded, American male wouldn't want to drive a Ford truck.
But of course, the company is not just about trucks. They make cars too, and lately even those have been getting some pretty good press. Ford President and CEO, Alan Mulally, who joined the company in 2006 amidst dismal balance sheets, union problems, and tumbling U.S. auto sales, as well as a crumbling American economy, knows all too well that Americans are mostly looking for affordable, safe cars to drive that won't fall apart shortly after they exit the sales lot. After all, he's an airplane guy. He came from Boeing. Safety and quality workmanship in a product like an aircraft is paramount. It's a brand that people must have great faith in that when they settle into their seat and take to the air, they will stay there until it's time to land. Mulally clearly understands, as well, that American cars in particular have gotten a bad reputation. And when it comes to Ford, well, everyone knows all the jokes—I feel no need to repeat them here.
While there's no doubt that much of that reputation was earned across all of the American Big Three, the stigma has outlasted the reality. The truth is, American cars are made better than ever. I'll grant you that they may not be exactly in line with their foreign counterparts. Yet. But hear me now. Look out Toyota. Ford is not comprised of dummies, and let's not forget that they practically invented the business of making automobiles. There has been vast improvement across all American auto brands, and I'm inclined to believe that it will only get better. Ford will be the leader of the pack.
Part of that is because Ford is, once again, a much smaller company. It will be able to focus on its brand. It will be able to focus on its innovation, styling, and performance. As a smaller company they can place a greater emphasis on making great cars as opposed to managing a gazillion SKUs. They can put their money and their time into research and development. They can concentrate their attention on brand styling. They can entrench themselves in making cars that Americans will want to drive.
Because after all, it has to be about making great cars before its ever about making a dime. Consequently, these two things happen to, however, go hand in hand. Great cars equal great profits. And clearly Ford will be the first American auto company to emerge from this recent economic slump with its balance sheets in the black. That's an enormous feat in and of itself if you think about it.
When it comes to American automakers, I think there's no question that Ford Motor Company is America's gem. Alan Mulally is a masterful leader who, I think, can restore the historic blue oval and cursive lettering to its former glory. The Ford emblem can reign again as a symbol of American pride and American quality. I'm willing to put my money on it. And you can bet I'll be watching the company for the long haul, as well as driving their cars.
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