DEARBORN - Ford President of The Americas Mark Fields opened Friday’s Americas Business Review by asking management leaders gathered at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn to stand up and give each other a high five in recognition of the record-setting performance of Ford North America in the first quarter of 2012.
Ford North America reported a pre-tax operating profit of $2.1 billion – the highest quarterly profit for the region since at least 2000 when the company started reflecting North America as a separate business unit.
“This is really special because all of you and your folks are working so hard,” said Fields. “It was a fantastic quarter for us and a great jumping-off point for the rest of the year.”
Ford North America plays a critical role in contributing to the overall health of the company, Fields said, especially in light of challenges facing other regions of the world.
“We in North America are the profit driver for the company,” he said. “That is so important as Europe works through the tough market situation there and as we continue to invest in growth in Asia-Pacific and also South America.”
Fields gave a special shout-out to the Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) for supporting North America with a historical record quarter profit.
“We love FCSD,” he said.
Fields received a round of applause from the management team when he reported Ford North America’s first quarter operating margin of 11.5 percent.
“Here’s the amazing thing,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about operating margin and how important that is. Just a number of years ago even the top luxury brands in the world weren’t even coming close to 11.5 percent.”
Later in the afternoon, K.R. Kent, controller of The Americas, pointed out that the 11.5 percent operating margin reflects a 2.3 percentage point improvement compared with 2004, and he reflected on the overall performance of North America in the first quarter.
“Absolutely fantastic first quarter – truly a record for North America,” he said. “But records are meant to be broken.”
Ken Czubay, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, gave an update on the company’s Sales and Marketing efforts. He discussed the success of key products in the first quarter, highlighting the performance of the Ford Focus, Explorer, Edge and Lincoln MKS.
“The cars and utilities are really going strong,” he said.
Czubay also singled out F-Series for posting its best March sales month in five years.
“I want you to know that our truck business is really, really good,” he said. “Consumers are really voting with their wallets and choosing F-Series once again as the best-selling vehicle in North America.”
Czubay said 2012 will be a big launch year for both Ford and Lincoln with long list of upgraded products and all-new vehicles including the Escape, C-MAX Hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi and Lincoln MKZ.
“Look at the incredible products we have coming this year and the incredible opportunity we have in the marketplace,” he said. “Not only is the tide rising for the industry, but the stars are really aligning for us, our dealers and consumers.”
Also presenting at the Americas Business Review on Friday was Bennie Fowler, group vice president, Quality & New Model Launch, who addressed early Global Quality Research System (GQRS) results showing a second year of decline for Ford.
“There are challenges before us, but I think they can be overcome,” he said. “The only acceptable place for us to be in quality is No. 1.”
Fields closed the meeting by reiterating the company’s Go Further promise.
“We have a long history of working together and achieving our goals. We’re going further on our products, going further in our communities, going further in the way we’re approaching our customers, our dealers and our relationships,” he said. “It makes us different from our competition.”