Ford's Fields: "I'm no magician"

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.”

Reader Comments

phil

August 10, 2006 10:46 PM

The last generation Mazda Protege would have made a better platform for the Focus of today than simply making little modifications to keep sales somewhat steady. Create a Tacoma fighter would be another idea, but Ford is not famous for four cylinder power like Toyota. Push fuel efficiency, dont just talk about it. The Mustang, in my opinion, represents the pinnacle of American Heritage, Marketing, Sales, and Street Credibility. As far as the F-150 many ford fans have suggested making the new 6-speed automatics the standard automatics to be used to improve fuel efficiency, but lets hope the bean counters and shareholders don't destroy that idea as well. Lastly one thing to always remember: Toyota makes money on virtually everything they build. They do not have to outsale the competition to hurt the competition. The fact that Toyota has made the Tundra bigger and badder than ever with the best interior of any truck and many cars is an indication.

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