A Social Focus
Ford is applying global experiences and expertise on a local level in Romania, via a host of market-leading products and corporate social responsibility initiatives
Driving Romanian industry
he name ‘Ford’ in the world of industry is synonymous with notions of manufacturing excellence, automotive pioneering and product quality. And while these concepts inevitably remain true throughout its Romanian operations, the name ‘Ford’ in this country also brings to mind far more all-encompassing, socially-driven connotations as well.
Set up in the Eastern European nation 11 years ago virtue of an acquisition from an American enterprise – subsequently inheriting the former Automobile Craiova plant – the evolution of Ford Romania ever since has been the perfect amalgamation of traditional Ford product successes, and more community and socially-charged initiatives.
Focusing on the former, the rise of the Company has been unsurprisingly rapid and expansive, kickstarted initially in March, 2008 upon the plant takeover’s completion, and followed up by almost €1.5 billion worth of investments to transform the site into one of the most modern and advanced production facilities across the Group’s global portfolio.
“Vehicle production started in 2009 with the light commercial vehicle (LCV), Transit Connect, and continued in 2012 with the launch of the 1.0l Ecoboost engine, Ford’s multi-awarded engine as International Engine of the Year for four years in a row,” the Company adds. “Also, in 2012, Ford started the production of the multi- activity vehicle, B-MAX, the most innovative product in the segment.”
Due to market trends and the decline of the MPV segment, Ford
Ford of Romania is one of the most significant employers in the region of Craiova and at the end of the past year, the Company ran the largest recruiting campaign since its inception...
ceased manufacturing the BMAX in 2017, before replacing it late last year with the launch of the new Ecosport, Ford’s small SUV. Attracting initial investments of almost €200 million, this most recent unveiling not only added a further string to the Company’s already extensive bow, but reaffirmed the business’s flexibility in meeting customer preferences and keeping ahead of the industry curve; an attribute that has been every bit as successful in Romania as it has in existing international markets.
“Ford is one of the top-three selling imported car brands in Romania and has one of the best sales networks with more than 37 showrooms located around the entire country,” the Company continues. “Ford of Romania is one of the most significant employers in the region of Craiova and at the end of the past year, the Company ran the largest recruiting campaign since its inception in Romania, hiring more than 1,700 people.”
All told, Ford employs more than 4,500 people in the country, working closely with a national supplier network of more than 40 Romanian- based companies. Consequently embedding itself into the local fabric of Romania’s manufacturing domain, the Company is perfectly poised to capitalise on a successful first decade of doing business in the country.
Returning to Romania
While a physical impression on Romania can only be traced back to 2007 in the Ford history books, the wider relationship between company and country goes back a lot further.
As far back as 1928 in fact, the 1903-founded Ford Motor Company familiarised itself with the nation via a friendship between Henry Ford himself and the then Secretary of the Romanian Legation in Washington, Andrei Popovici.
“In 1931, Ford opened a sales firm in Romania, and a year later, in 1932, the Romanian Government communicated to the Ford subsidiary in England (which owned the Romanian firm) the availability to open an assembly line in Bucharest,” the Company recalls on its website. “As a result of this invitation, in 1935, Ford acquired land in the Floreasca district of Bucharest, where
it built a modern factory, equipped with the first operational line in Eastern Europe, and over 100 workers who could assemble annually 2,500 cars and trucks.”
Resultantly contributing to a significant period of industrial upskilling in the region, a plethora of young Romanian artisans were introduced to the world of high-profile automotive engineering for the first time; a social facilitation that has been loyally repaid over the past decade, but that was initially cut short at the time upon the beginning of the Second World War.
“It was not until 1966 that the Ford Motor Company tried to return to Romania through its German subsidiary, sending a joint venture proposal to the Romanian government,” the Company picks up. “In the meantime, the Ford plant profile in Romania had been changed to automation, where Automatica was operating.
“Ford Motor Company returned to Romania in 2007, this time not in Bucharest, but in Craiova, buying the majority stake in Automobile Craiova and taking over the Automobile Craiova plant in March, 2008. 74 years after the first Ford manufactured in Romania, in September, 2009, the first Ford Transit Connect came out of the Craiova production line, which was donated to the municipal hospital in Craiova.”
Work, commitment and dedication
Fast-forward 10 years on and the Company marked its decade anniversary at Craiova on 21 March, 2018, and thus celebrated the share purchase agreement for the Romanian facility that was signed back in 2008.
Originally committing to an initial investment of more than €675 million to transform the Craiova site into a state-of-the-art facility, this number has almost doubled in reality since then, making the site one of Ford’s most advanced on a global scale.
The aforementioned array of products soon began filing their way out of the production facilities and into the hands of an eager customer base. And as demand has evidently grown, so too has Ford’s own infrastructure in the country. The introduction of the new Ecosport in particular led to an additional 1,800 people being employed; highlighting not only the support being received by the Romanian population, but the support that Ford is then giving back in terms of social opportunity.
“It took a lot of work, commitment and dedication from all our Craiova Ford team and I’m personally very happy to witness this great achievement of celebrating 10 years here in Craiova,” said John Oldham, former Ford Craiova Plant Director, in acknowledgement of the achievement. “In these 10 years we’ve not only produced great engines and cars, but we’ve massively increased the
number of our employees and we’ve almost doubled at the same time our investment in Romania.”
Current daily production volumes - based on available information within local automotive associations - both in powertrains and vehicles operations have reached almost 1,300 engines and 600 cars, in two shifts, which is a record result in the history of this manufacturing site.
“Craiova is a world-class Ford plant, building world-class vehicles and engines. And most important is that people who work here are world- class too, delivering market-leading technology products at a high-quality level; and I would just like to thank each and every one of them for all their hard work,” Oldham added.
A great team
From 1 April, Oldham was appointed as Transportations Manager Europe, thus vacating his roles as Craiova Plant Director and President of the Ford of Romania Board of Directors.
Now looking after all logistics and transportation-related activities for Ford across the entire continent, the positive exposure directed towards Romania’s rise to prominence is indicative of what he and the Company have achieved over the past 10 years.
“Craiova has been my home for the past four years and I have been very fortunate to have been working here and have such a great team,” Oldham says. “I’m very proud about our work together including the successful launch of the new Ecosport, and I’m fully convinced that our Romanian plant will continue playing a key role in Ford’s manufacturing footprint, delivering at the same time such outstanding products.”
With more than 37 years of experience in various manufacturing roles within Ford of Britain and Ford of Europe, Oldham has been based in Craiova for the past four years, starting in 2014 as Craiova Powertrains Manager; at the time replacing Ian Pearson.
Further managerial tweaks geared towards leveraging the improved and scaled-up structure of Ford Romania have seen Pearson now come back to Craiova as the new site Director and President of the Board of Directors; ironically filling the positions vacated by Oldham.
I’m fully convinced that our Romanian plant will continue playing a key role in Ford’s manufacturing footprint, delivering at the same time such outstanding products
The Ford vision is to become the world leader in automotive products and services
Henry Ford has transformed our way of life with practical and affordable cars. Thus, in more than a century of existence, its remarkable achievements have a special contour. During this century, which has experienced prosperity and difficulties, peace and war, Ford Motor Company has grown thanks to a man and his vision. Society always perpetuates the spirit of its founder through a way of thinking that is concerned with a better future sustained by the innovations made in both design, manufacturing and technology.