Posted by: David Kiley on August 9, 2006
Ford president of the Americas Mark Fields was in Traverse City, MI last night to have dinner with some of the company’s critics (re: reporters) the night before he gave a speech at the Center for Automotive Research Management Conference.
Fields was direct and pretty open. My favorite moment was when he asked the waiter to explain what a squab is. C’mon Mark…you have traveled and worked all over the world, and you aren’t sure what a squab is? He also took joshing over offering…”you know….whats his name…the guy who won American Idol.” You mean the guy starring in your summer ads? That guy? Taylor Hicks. I think at one point, Fields, groping for Hicks’s name, said, “The guy with the hair.” Hmmmm. Fields, known around town for his coif, was on dangerous ground.
Fields strikes me as the right guy if only he had more time to work with. He is the first guy to run Ford North America since Lee Iacocca to have a genuine knowledge of and appreciation of marketing, which is so important to the comeback of the company. He is making mostly good product choices as far as the plan goes. The trouble is that Ford would be better off if he had been making them three years ago instead of the last six months.
Ford will come back to us in about six to seven weeks with some announcements about how it is going to accelerate certain products and maybe sell some of the furniture. Jaguar? Land Rover?
When asked if he was able to move fast enough to keep up with falling revenues and profits at Ford, he said, “Im not a magician. I’m a practitioner.” Reminds me a little of when Gerald Ford famously said…”I’m a Ford. Not a Lincoln.”