William Clay Ford, Jr.

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William Clay Ford, Jr.
BornMay 3, 1957 (1957-05-03) (age 64)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
OccupationExecutive Chairman of Ford Motor Company
Spouse(s)Lisa Ford

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 the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company. Ford also served as the President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Operating Officer until turning over those roles to Boeing executive Alan Mulally in September 2006.[1][2] 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. 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.

Early career

He joined Ford in 1979 and 1981 held a variety of positions, beginning in product development and on the finance 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.

Corporate governance

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.[3] 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[1]

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.[4][5]


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 advisors 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.[6]

According to news reports, Ford "is a tae kwon do blackbelt, a student of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism and a folk guitar player." Known for being a songwriter, Ford has composed folk hits like, "The Model T Shuffle", "The River Rouge Jig", and his most well known song "Billy Got Back".[7] Ford also played on the company hockey team, which won their division at the 2006 USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships in Wisconsin.

Ford also is Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions football team, Chairman of the Detroit Economic Club, and Chairman 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.

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[who?] 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. [7]. 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. [8]

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.[8]

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 "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.[9]

See also


  • Automobile Magazine interview of William Clay Ford, Jr
  1. 1.0 1.1 [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]
  4. "CEO Compensation" - 251-275 on Forbes.com's top-earning CEO's list. URL accessed September 6, 2006.
  5. William Clay Ford Jr - Profile at Forbes.com]
  6. [4]
  7. [5]
  8. "The Motown missionary". The Observer. 2000-11-12. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2000/nov/12/theobserver.observerbusiness7. Retrieved on 2008-04-01. 
  9. [6]

External links

Business positions
Preceded by
Jacques Nasser
Chief Executive Officer of the Ford Motor Company
2001 — 2006
Succeeded by
Alan Mulally