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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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here are few family firms that are more associated with the history and development of industry and society over the past century as Ford Motor Company is. Henry Ford and 11 of his business partners started the company with a $28,000 investment on June 16, 1903. Despite using up that entire cash investment by the time they sold the first Model A car in July, Ford and his partners were able to turn a profit of $37,000 by October of 1903. The company's most known achievement was the production of the Model T in 1908, which was a simple, affordable, and durable automobile which they ended up selling about 15 million units, becoming one of the best selling vehicles of all time. Ever since then, the company has expanded tremendously and has grown to become one of the largest players in the car manufacturing industry.  According to their mission statement, the company is a global enterprise for automotive leadership. Today, they produce trucks, cars, tractors, busses, automotive components, and even offer financial services. They have about 300,000 employees and 108 plants worldwide. The company includes several brands such as Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, and Land Rover, just to name a few. Now the company is beginning its second century of existence with a global presence that retains and grows Henry Ford's legacy by developing new products that serve many different groups of consumers.

For almost two decades there has not been a Ford family member running Ford Motor Company, but there are two family members on its board of directors; William “Bill” Clay Ford Jr. and Edsel Ford II. They act as representatives of the stockholders and to help make decisions on major company issues. Bill Jr. joined the company in 1979 as a product planning analyst, and held positions in manufacturing, sales, marketing, product development and finance. After Henry Ford II stepped down from his role as chairman in that same year, there have only been professional managers allowed into the top position. Nine years later, the company declared that chairman Alex Trotman would leave the company a year earlier than expected to let Bill Ford assume control, with Jac Nasser acting as president and chief executive officer. Bill Ford now holds close to 11.5 percent of the nearly 71 million Class B shares held by the descendants Henry Ford. These shares are less than 2 percent of outstanding Ford shares, but they hold 40 percent of the voting power. The largest owner of Class B stock is Lynn Alandt, one of Bill's cousins, who owns about 7 million shares. Today, Bill Jr. is a philanthropic leader and continues to drive the family initiative.

Edsel Ford II is Henry Ford's great grandson and in addition to being on the board of directors is also part of Ford's finance committee. Edsel II has started a consulting company that represents Ford dealers and he also has a son, Henry Ford III, that works for the company in Dearborn, Michigan. Henry III held many jobs in the company since 2002 including marketing, product planning, purchasing, sales, and dealer relations. Today, the well-spoken 36-year-old runs marketing for Ford Performance, the company's enthusiast-and-racing division. Elena Ford, daughter of Charlotte Ford,  is a vice president and one of the thirty-eight officers running the company. She holds a bachelor's degree in business and is currently responsible for marketing, product management, and sales support activities and is the first female member to hold a significant position at Ford.

Benson Ford Jr., a great grandson of Henry Ford was much like his father and sort of a black sheep in the Ford family. He sought a seat in the Ford Motor board and took him nine years to get a degree from Whittier College while drowning himself in the Southern California lifestyle. He was arrested in a drug bust and harmed the family name. He even wore a wire to a famous family meeting in 1978 in attempt to give himself a better position within the company but the attempt was figured out. He eventually repaired the relationship with his family and eventually held a Ford marketing job from 1986 to 1995. Today he races cars and uses motorsports to raise funds for children's health care, but he does not work for the company. Benson Jr. did not think that it was fair that he did not have as big of a role of his other family members in the business but I believe that he has come to terms with that now in his later years. Other than in that scandal, all of the family members feel as if they have a fair role within the company.

The Ford Family has had five generations of family members in the business starting with the pioneer of the company, Henry Ford. Henry passed the company onto his son Edsel in 1919. Edsel had worked closely with his dad and they had a good relationship. He wanted to push the company towards creating more fashionable cars which Henry was reluctant to sign off on but eventual happened. Edsel died in 1943 and company ownership went back to Henry, which caused tension within the family business. Henry Ford II, Edsel's son, was serving in the Navy at the time of Edsel's passing and was unable to take over the business. By this point in time, Henry was mentally unfit for the job and most of the company directors did not want him as president. Finally, two years later Henry II was able to assume control of the business but it came with a strained relationship to his grandfather.  The following generations in the business have had a relatively good relationship with each other with no major feuds or rivalries.

Ford Motor Company has an organizational culture that pushes the firm towards high performance to achieve its goals of industry leadership. It maintains a high-performance workforce and pursues excellence and teamwork. They also focus on quality and safety and make sure that their personnels' values align with the company. The company does not tolerate anything but the best. The key success to Ford's success was Henry Ford's moving assembly line which offered jobs during that time that were under much harsher and more demanding conditions than most others. Most of the workers were unskilled and they were paid less than skilled tradesman. On the assembly line workers either kept up with the pace of production or they were gone. It was amazing how workers were willing to go through such a grueling nine hour workday to receive such a small wage. That all changed in 1914 when Henry Ford decided to give back to his workers in hopes of reducing the turnover rate associated with the harsh conditions. Ford announced it would pay workers a minimum wage of $5 per day, which meant that the wage would be more than double. Ford also announced that it was going to reduce the work day from nine hours to eight. Workers eligible for this 5$ day would have to prove that they were living in a way that was acceptable to the company. Employees would have to open a savings account, preferably at the company bank, so that they could save for the down payment on a home. They had to show that they could manage their funds and not recklessly spend their wages on alcohol or partying. This news revolutionized industry and helped create the culture that Ford has today. Ford wants to help their employees but they also want a strong dedicated workforce.

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