About William Clay Ford, Jr.
William Clay "Bill" Ford Jr. (born May 3, 1957 in Detroit, Michigan), is the great-grandson of Henry Ford, and serves as the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, Ford also served as the President, CEO, and COO until turning over those roles to former Boeing executive Alan Mulally in September 2006. Ford is also the Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions NFL franchise.
Ford was born in Detroit, Michigan, the great-grandson of both Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. His father is William Clay Ford, Sr., and his mother is Martha Firestone. On his mother's side his grandparents are Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. and Elizabeth Parke Firestone. On his father's side his grandparents are Edsel Bryant Ford and Eleanor Lowthian Clay. Edsel Ford II, son of Henry Ford II and also a board member, is Bill's cousin. Bill has three sisters: Martha Morse (who has 3 children), Shelia Hamp (who has 3 children), and Elizabeth Kontulis. Bill attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut and went on to graduate from Princeton University in 1979, having majored in history and served as president of The Ivy Club. He played on the Princeton rugby team as well. In 1984 he received an S.M. in Management as a Sloan Fellow from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He is married to Lisa Vanderzee, and they have four children, all living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
He joined Ford in 1979 and 1981 held a variety of positions, beginning in product development and on the financial staff, a grooming ground for future executives. He served several years as a mid-ranking executive in product development. He also briefly headed the Climate Control Division (since divested from the company as part of the Visteon spinoff). At the time of the Ford 2000 reorganization, he was in charge of heavy truck operations.
Ford gave up an executive position in heavy truck program management to become chairman of the finance committee on the Board of Directors, a non-executive corporate governance position. He was elected Chairman of the Board in September 1998, and took office on January 1, 1999. Ford added the title of Chief Executive Officer on October 30, 2001, following the ouster of then-CEO Jacques Nasser. That ouster reflected significant differences in corporate values—Nasser focused on maximizing corporate profits and shareholder value, while Ford was noted for valuing people and tradition. With the retirement of Ford President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Padilla in April 2006, Bill Ford assumed those roles as well. On September 5, 2006, Ford announced that he was stepping down as President and CEO, naming former Boeing senior executive Alan Mulally as his replacement. Ford continues as the company's Executive Chairman
At the time of his stepping down, Ford was ranked 264th on Forbes' list of top-earning CEOs, at $5,140,000 per year. Mr. Ford donates most of his compensation to various charitable causes.
Bill Ford generated a name for himself early when he was serving as the new Chairman of the Board. On February 1, 1999, when the Ford Rouge Powerhouse had an explosion that killed several Ford employees, Bill Ford rejected the ideas of his advisers and rushed to the scene from the nearby Ford world headquarters building. One of his staff cautioned, "Generals don't go out to the front lines." Ford's retort: "Then bust me down to private." Ford stopped and gave a heart-breaking account of the explosion to roadside television crews.
According to news reports, Ford "is a tae kwon do blackbelt, a vegetarian and a folk guitar player." Ford also plays on the company hockey team, which has won their division at the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010 USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
Ford also is Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions football team, Chairman of the Detroit Economic Club, and Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of The Henry Ford museum. He also is a Vice Chairman of Detroit Renaissance and a member of the Board of directors of eBay Inc. In 2000, Ford was cited to be worth around $2.8 billion considering the companies high stock price, however today Ford's stake in the company is valued lower.
In 2009, Ford was featured in the IFTA nominated Canadian-Irish docudrama Death or Canada. Ford gives insight into the trials his family faced when they fled Ireland in 1847, at the height of the An Gorta Mór or Great Famine, making their way to the United States through Canada, as many Irish Immigrants of the time did.
Ford Motor Company and environmental issues
Bill Ford is known to be a conscientious environmentalist, having driven an electric Ford Ranger EV, and currently a Hybrid Electric Escape. In 2000, he announced that the company would achieve a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency in the company's light truck fleet, including SUVs, by mid-decade. That commitment proved to be impractical, given consumer preference for heavy towing capacity and large, powerful engines in their trucks; the company announced in 2003 that competitive market conditions and technological and cost challenges would prevent it from achieving the goal. Ford terminated its ongoing electric vehicle program as impractical and unaffordable from a profitable business standpoint. Some environmentalists questioned Bill Ford and the Company's commitment to environmental concerns, and others pointed to Ford Motor Company's continued marketing of the fuel-thirsty SUVs as evidence of an other-than-green corporate agenda. Ford's position is that for the company to remain profitable and competitive (and remain in business), it must supply what customers demand. During 2006, there was an unexpectedly large swing in consumer demand away from pickups and SUVs to smaller cars and crossover vehicles, due to rapid increases in gasoline prices, and Ford Motor Company was largely unprepared for such a sudden shift in demand. As a result, Ford's total market share dropped in the U.S.
Under Bill Ford's direction, Ford Motor Company made technological progress toward improving fuel efficiency, with the introduction of the Hybrid Electric Escape, the most fuel efficient SUV on the market, achieving 36 mpg (EPA) in city driving. The Escape's platform mates Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute are also scheduled to receive hybrid-electric powertrain options, along with other upcoming vehicles in the Ford product line including the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan. Ford announced that half of the vehicle lineup will be available with advanced hybrid-electric powerplant options by 2010, although the Company's earlier pledge to build 250,000 hybrid vehicles a year by 2010 proved to be overly optimistic, and had to be abandoned. Ford also continues to study Fuel Cell-powered electric powertrains, and is currently demonstrating hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine technologies, as well as developing the next-generation hybrid-electric systems. In addition, to the Ford Escape, Hybrid Escape, Mercury Mariner, and Mazda Tribute, Ford is currently marketing high efficiency crossover SUVs such as the Ford Freestyle, and the Volvo XC70 and Volvo XC90. Ford is also developing sporty new crossover SUVs, such as the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Mazda CX-7.
Ford is also expanding the current lineup of flexible-fuel vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, and dual-fuel vehicles. Flexible fuel vehicles can operate on a range of fuel mixtures - such as ethanol-gasoline blends ranging from pure gasoline to E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline). Alternative fuel vehicles operate on non-petroleum fuels, such as methanol, compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, and hydrogen. Dual fuel vehicles generally have two fuel tanks - one for compressed natural gas or propane, and another for regular gasoline - with a selector switch to choose between them. Vehicles using these fueling alternatives are currently in test fleets, for example as taxis and shuttle buses, and some are or will soon be available for sale to the public. Ford is now committed to sell 250,000 alternative and flexible fuel vehicles - the majority of which will be designed to operate on ethanol-gasoline blends such as E85 - in 2006.
Speaking at the Greenpeace business conference in November 2000 in London he said "The day will come when the notion of car ownership becomes antiquated. If you live in a city, you don't need to own a car" explaining that Ford was repositioning itself as a 'purveyor of mobility' and would own the vehicles and make them available to people when they need access to them.
Strong competition from Asian competitors, soaring health care and raw material costs, and a slide in U.S. market share led Ford to announce a second restructuring for its North American operations in four years. Saddled with a junk debt rating and facing a sharp drop in U.S. market share, Ford's restructuring plan, dubbed "The Way Forward", was designed to reverse a $1.6 billion loss last year in its North American operations. Globally, however, the company made $2 billion in 2005.
As a lifelong environmentalist and a regular speaker on the topic of global gridlock, Bill Ford has become an advocate for improvements to be made in all modes of global transportation. Bill Ford has stated that governments and private industry will need to rethink transportation infrastructure and technology as the global population expands and the existing infrastructure is unable to keep pace.
In January 2010, Bill Ford announced the launch of a strategic investment firm, Fontinalis Partners, with the purpose of investing in intelligent transportation companies seeking to integrate technology into everyday transportation. Bill Ford co-founded the firm with Ralph Booth (Chairman and CEO of Booth American Company and successful media and telecom investor), Mark Schulz (former head of Ford Motor Company’s international operations), Chris Cheever, and Chris Thomas.
Fontinalis Partners made its first investment in January 2010 when it invested in Parkmobile International, a provider of mobile parking payment systems that allow users to pay for and monitor parking using their mobile phones. In June 2010, Fontinalis Partners added to its portfolio with an investment in Everyday Solutions, a company that provides GPS-driven software and hardware to school districts to allow for the monitoring of school bus fleets.[ In May 2011, Fontinalis Partners invested in SQLstream, a stream computing company that addresses the growing need to analyze real-time data for a wide variety of business and government applications, including the real-time analysis of sensor and GPS data in order to reduce congestion and optimize personal mobility. In June 2011, Fontinalis Partners invested in Streetline, a provider of smart parking solutions that enable cities and private operators to collect parking data via in-ground sensors, which can then be distributed through smart phone and web applications to provide users with information on real-time parking availability. Fontinalis Partners continues to evaluate additional opportunities to invest in companies solving global transportation issues.