DEARBORN - Ford President of The Americas Joe Hinrichs opened Wednesday’s Americas Business Review with five simple words to management leaders gathered at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn.
“It is a great day,” he said, to a strong round of applause.
Ford North America’s pre-tax profit for the first quarter of 2013 was a record-breaking $2.4 billion – the highest quarterly profit since the company began reflecting the region as a separate business entity.
“At the end of the day the story is very simple,” said Hinrichs. “In a rising industry, we take advantage of our product portfolio, grow share and watch the structural cost growth. Same thing we talked about three months ago, but it is happening and it is real so thank you very much.”
Ford North America’s first quarter market share was 15.9 percent, up seven-tenths of a percentage point from a year ago.
Hinrichs noted that Ford’s growth in North America is largely due to fresh products like the all-new C-MAX, the Fusion, Escape, Explorer and F-Series.
“That was the plan,” he said, “but it’s great to see the plan come together.”
Hinrichs emphasized that while North America performed very well financially in the first quarter, the first wave of quality data was disappointing.
“The most important topic in front of us in the Americas is clearly around quality, and we have a lot of work to do there. We can’t lose sight of that,” he said. “As great as the profits are, the foundation of the business resides in the quality we provide for our customers in our great products.”
K. R. Kent, executive director and controller, The Americas, addressed the issue of quality when he talked to the group gathered Wednesday about growing profits and margins.
“If we can improve our launches going forward, we’re really going to improve the business overall,” he said. “We have a lot of product coming next year and in 2015 and we must leverage what we’ve learned from last year’s launches and make better improvements for next year.”
Jim VanSlambrouck, director, Americas Quality, discussed the major issues affecting quality in North America.
“(The majority of our quality concerns) come from electrical, interior and vehicle engineering,” he said. “We need to continue to make progress in entertainment and communications, some of the interior attributes like cup holders and storage and in vehicle engineering with regard to wind and road noise.”
VanSlambrouck said that while significant improvements have been implemented since the first quarter, further quality improvement opportunities exist across all vehicles and functions.
Also speaking at Wednesday’s America’s Business Review was Curt Magleby, vice president, Government Affairs, who discussed some of the key policy issues affecting the automotive industry: budget and fiscal stability, international trade, corporate tax reform and regulation.
“There are a lot of issues going on that really affect our business, both in terms of opportunities and challenges,” he said. “We have to reach out to all those people who are new in Congress and at the state level. We have to educate them on the importance of manufacturing.”