DEARBORN - It’s not very often that someone can attribute their very existence to Ford Motor Company and yet Lou Ghilardi is able to do just that.
“In addition to a rewarding and fulfilling nearly 30-year career, I can also thank Ford for my basic existence,” said Lou, managing counsel and assistant secretary, Office of General Counsel. “Without Ford I may well have never been born into this world.”
Each of Louis’ grandfathers, Joseph Ghilardi (paternal grandfather) and Louis Crocco (maternal grandfather) immigrated to America from Italy in the early 1900s to find a better, more prosperous life for themselves and their families.
“Whenever I think I’m having a bad day, I think back to what my grandfathers used to endure and think that I’ve got it pretty good compared to what they had,” said Lou. “They continue to inspire me with what they’ve done in their lives.”
Both gentlemen had to leave their families behind until they could establish themselves in the “new country.” Before coming to Detroit, Joseph was working in an Arizona copper mine while Crocco was working in a Pennsylvania coal mine when Ford announced it would be paying its workers U.S. $5 a day.
“Each of my grandfathers traveled to Detroit with the hope of getting a job at Ford or, more appropriately back then, Fords,” said Lou.
Needless to say, both men were successful in getting jobs at the Rouge complex where they spent long careers at Ford. Crocco retired in the early 1960s with more than 40 years of service while Joseph retired in 1952 with nearly 30 years of service. However, before their retirements, Crocco and Joseph were both able to have their families, including Lou’s mother at age 14 and his father at age 16, join them in Detroit.
As a result, Lou’s mother and father eventually met in the early 1950s at Patton Park, a hangout for young Italian immigrants. They were married in 1954 and he was born in 1956.
“The rest is history,” he said. “So, I think I can say that, but for Ford, it is very likely one or both of my grandfathers would not have ended up in Detroit, my mother and father would not have met and I would not have been born.”
To this day, Lou continues to follow in each of his grandfathers’ footsteps, extending upon the multigenerational aspect already in place. It doesn’t end here, though. Lou’s son, Nick Ghilardi, also wishes to continue walking the same path as his father. In the summer of 2008, Nick interned in the Marketing, Sales and Service department and is currently applying for jobs.
“He likes Ford and would like to follow in my footsteps as a Ford employee,” said Lou.