Fo­cus on the Ford bosses

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Paul Gover - FOR an­swers to many of Alex’s ques­tions, turn to Page 6 and see what Alan Mu­lally has to say.

THE com­pact Fo­cus is Ford’s fu­ture in Aus­tralia — that is clear from a brief­ing this week by Ford pres­i­dent Alan Mu­lally.

The smooth-talk­ing US chief used his Mel­bourne visit to lobby the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on tar­iffs, talk to work­ers at Broad­mead­ows and face a grilling from a small group of Aus­tralian press­men.

There was plenty to dis­cuss, but most of the is­sues had al­ready been raised by an an­gry and in­sight­ful cars­Guide reader.

Alex Gen­tilu­omo sums up what a lot of peo­ple are think­ing, and ask­ing, in an open let­ter to Ford. Here is what he has to say:

I’m from Gee­long and I’m writ­ing about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion at the Ford Mo­tor Com­pany. This is not an ‘I hate Ford’ let­ter but one that must be told.

Last week’s an­nounce­ment of more job losses here in Gee­long and at Broad­mead­ows is an­other slap in the face to the Gee­long com­mu­nity. I feel for the work­ers who lose their jobs and I wish them and their fam­i­lies well.

Gee­long needs Ford in this town, now and in the fu­ture. My fa­ther worked at Ford for 39 years and I have them to thank for putting a roof over our heads and food on the ta­ble.

The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion at Ford here in Gee­long and glob­ally can only (and I do mean only) be blamed on the Ford man­age­ment team. Ford will blame ‘high fuel costs’, it blames ‘ris­ing in­ter­est rates’ and it blames ‘cur­rent mar­ket con­di­tions’ but no one at Ford will dare blame them­selves for the mess the com­pany is in.

Ford’s fail­ure to ex­port the Fal­con/Ter­ri­tory has ham­pered its abil­ity to sell enough vol­ume to be prof­itable. And what I mean by ex­port­ing is that it’s sent to other coun­tries in large vol­umes, not the small num­bers sent to South Africa and New Zealand.

It keeps re­fer­ring to the Fo­cus model line be­ing added at Broad­me­dows in 2010 or 2011. That is a long way off con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Holden and Toy­ota ex­port thou­sands and thou­sands of Aus­tralian-made ve­hi­cles all over the globe and for that they and their par­ent com­pa­nies must be ap­plauded.

The con­stant line we get from Ford is it is ‘eval­u­at­ing the Fal­con for pos­si­ble ex­port’. This has been men­tioned sev­eral times be­fore with no re­sults. Other quotes from man­age­ment in­clude ‘we need to do bet­ter with Fal­con’ and ‘we need to do bet­ter with Fo­cus and Fi­esta,’ yet what have they done mar­ket­ing-wise? In an era of the buy­ing pub­lic mov­ing to smaller, more fuel-ef­fi­cient cars, Ford’s Fo­cus and Fi­esta mod­els are still out­sold by their com­peti­tors in large num­bers.

The Ter­ri­tory has not been up­dated since it was launched and its vol­umes are fall­ing.

How many times have we seen let­ters in the cars­Guide re­fer­ring to lack of sup­port from Ford’s cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ment in re­la­tion to war­ranty is­sues? Surely this type of at­ti­tude from man­age­ment is con­tribut­ing to peo­ple mov­ing from the brand.

For its past two pres­i­dents to leave the com­pany as well speaks vol­umes of its in­abil­ity to put an ef­fec­tive man­age­ment struc­ture in place. The late Ge­off Poli­ties was the only Ford pres­i­dent in re­cent mem­ory who ac­tu­ally ran the com­pany in a de­cent man­ner.

Maybe it should put Craig Lown­des in charge. At least he is al­ways smil­ing and has the time to talk to the peo­ple who mat­ter — the cus­tomer and the Ford worker.

I worked at Ford’s Dis­cov­ery Cen­tre for a few years dur­ing the AU dis­as­ter and thought morale was low then when the AU Fal­con was be­ing slaugh­tered in the mar­ket place by the Com­modore.

From what I have seen and been told it is much worse now for the Ford work­force.

The Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment can also be blamed for not pro­tect­ing the auto in­dus­try as a whole. In­stead of cut­ting tar­iffs it should ei­ther hold them at cur­rent lev­els or in­crease them.

I ac­tu­ally work (in­di­rectly) for a Ford com­peti­tor and have ab­so­lutely no plea­sure see­ing this com­pany in the sit­u­a­tion it is in. All I care about is jobs for Aus­tralians and jobs for Gee­long.

As a na­tion­wide in­dus­try we have al­ready lost Mit­subishi and if Ford doesn’t act now it has no

blame.’ one but it­self to

Pres­i­dent Ford: Alan Mu­lally in Mel­bourne. Pic­ture: FIONA HAMIL­TON

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