The road back to Detroit

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide Confidential - Twit­ter: @PaulWardGover

IF you don’t fol­low or­ders at Ford Australia, you can pay a high price. Few peo­ple re­mem­ber an Amer­i­can called John Og­den, who was briefly in the top job at Broad­mead­ows in the early 1990s.

Part of his brief from Detroit as com­pany pres­i­dent was to shut the Fal­con fac­tory, which was con­sid­ered mar­ginal on prof­itabil­ity even then. But he was talked around by lo­cal man­age­ment and work­ers, who proved to him that there was no fu­ture for an im­ported fron­twheel drive re­place­ment for the lo­cally built Fal­con.

Og­den re­turned early to Detroit and his ca­reer was ef­fec­tively done.

Fast for­ward to 2015 and we’ve just seen Bob Graziano, pic­tured, pack­ing his bag for Detroit and early re­tire­ment, at only 55, from Ford Mo­tor Com­pany.

Yet Graziano, one of the most hon­ourable com­pany chiefs in the com­pany’s lo­cal his­tory, had promised him­self, his work­ers and the peo­ple of Australia many times that he would stay un­til the day the fi­nal Fal­con rolled down the pro­duc­tion line at Broad­mead­ows. He even ex­tended his stay in Australia to en­sure he would be here.

His de­par­ture is noted as a per­sonal de­ci­sion. It’s true he plans to do vol­un­teer work in Africa as part of his re­tire­ment. But there is an­other story, with par­al­lels to Od­gen’s end.

A well-placed source says Detroit is not happy with lo­cal sales num­bers and wants an ear­lier end to pro­duc­tion. Graziano was told to shut the fac­tory but re­fused, and was then given a week to ac­cept the early re­tire­ment deal.

Of­fi­cially, Ford Australia has noth­ing to say on the sub­ject. “We are on track for our man­u­fac­tur­ing tran­si­tion in Oc­to­ber 2016. We can­not com­ment (on) any other spec­u­la­tion,” says com­pany spokesman Wes­ley Sher­wood.

Which is the real story? We’ll know in about 18 months. But re­mem­ber, his­tory of­ten re­peats.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.