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Old 01-08-2003, 21:21   #1 (permalink)
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Bill Ford Hits The Road For F-150 In Centennial Year

DAILY IN DEPTH/The Car Connection
Mac Gordon/1-9-03

This is a crucial year for Ford Motor Company – and no one knows it better than the first member of the Ford family to serve as chairman and CEO in more than 20 years, William Clay Ford, Jr. Far from shrinking from the spotlight, the 45-year-old great grandson of company founder Henry Ford is seemingly anywhere and everywhere as a keynote speaker and new-product presenter, playing a star role in major industry events as the 100th anniversary of the company’s founding approaches this June. Not since Bill Ford’s uncle, Henry Ford II, led the company from the late 1940s through the 1970s has a Ford been so prominent.

The aura of the famous family goes where Bill Ford goes, and the studious and affable chairman is well aware of it. He started out as host of a Ford product display on the opening Sunday night of the media previews at the North American International Auto Show in an old Ford plant in Detroit, making the historical observation that “nothing has been more central to our success or more important to us in the last 50 years than our F-Series.”

Bill Ford is acutely aware of history as he makes the rounds as keynote speaker, next before the Automotive News World Congress January 13, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, and February 1 before the National Automotive Dealers Association convention in San Francisco. The F-150 has become entrenched as the world’s top-selling new vehicle and the company’s largest single profit producer – and it’s no coincidence that the newest rendition of the pickup is emerging in the big centennial year. What is more of a challenge for Bill Ford is the company’s turnaround program from a period of over-expansion that led to severe financial losses in 2001. The 2004 F-150 has been described by company executives as a make-or-break vehicle, and Bill Ford is going to be its star advocate in more of his public appearance throughout 2003.
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