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

EME Outlook - - Contents - Writer: Matthew Staff | Project Man­ager: Tom Arnold

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.

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