Ford chief Mulally wins over retirees
Retirees are often a company's harshest critics.
It was no exception for Ford Motor Co. President and Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, who faced a tough crowd in Bonita Springs recently. Despite the fact that Ford posted a profitable year in 2009, grumpy retirees milling about before Mulally's presentation weren't exactly singing the company's praises.
But Mulally endeared himself with his plainspoken honesty about the challenges of the car business. His language was laced with an occasional profanity, such as when he recalled pitching bankers on his plan to save the company by raising $23.5 billion to carry the company through the recession. “They've heard all that (BS) before,” Mulally recalled.
Mulally disarmed the crowd with jokes and promises of exciting new cars powered by electric motors. With Fort Myers Ford dealer Sam Galloway at his side, Mulally drew loud applause when he reminded the crowd that Ford did not ask taxpayers to bail the company out.
Although he advocated government help for General Motors and Chrysler, Mulally says he didn't expect the government's nationalization of the rival carmakers. “I had no idea it would go as far as it did,” he conceded.
Mulally refused to capitalize on Toyota's recent misfortunes. “You'll never hear me or anyone at Ford say anything negative about Toyota,” Mulally says, reminding the audience of Ford's tire problems with its Explorer vehicle several years ago. “This can happen to anybody.”
But despite taking the high road, Mulally couldn't resist a sales timely pitch. “Having said that, we have some terrific Ford vehicles for you to consider,” he joked.