Employees Learn Why Transit Is Ford’s Unsung Hero

Mar 08, 2024

The Ford Transit is everywhere, whether you realize it or not. The lineup has a dominant presence in so many industries – it meets the needs of businesses in at least 65 industries, including services, construction, wholesale, and retail – but it tends to not stand out. 

“It’s amazing, with 1.2 million of them out on the roads, how few people see the Transit,” said Ray Eyles, chief program engineer. “Everybody notices Mustangs, Explorers, and Expeditions, but Transits just go about their business, and nobody really sees them.”

Eyles, a Ford veteran of 34 years with the last 14 years spent on Transit, took a select group of employees through the van’s high points during a recent online briefing. Also, he said he’s proud of what the Transit team has accomplished in the past 10 years since production of the van began in the U.S.

“It’s amazing how many niches we’ve gotten into and how we’ve revolutionized and rewritten the whole industry around what you can do with a van given all of the various sizes and types of options that we offer,” he said.

Dominance on display

A special, curated display celebrating Transit’s heritage and future was also held at World Headquarters. The exhibit included artifacts assembled by Ford’s archives team that detailed the van’s history, which dates back to 1965 in Europe. Ford began producing the venerable van in the U.S. in 2014.

Amy Graham, who works in Integrated Services, said the display was informative and easy to digest. She didn’t realize how prevalent the van is across different industries and vocations, and holding more than 50% market share in several industries.

“(Transit) was our first step a few years back when we really started to think about the commercial business,” she said. “We had been producing heavy-duty trucks, but Transit was aimed at smaller business owners. We really took a step in understanding those customers’ journeys. It’s the right fit and there’s more to come with new electric Transit.”

The exhibit sparked nostalgia for Michele Hanford, who works on the Product Development transmission team in Engineering Design and Testing. She worked on Transit while on foreign assignment in Belgium in the late 1990s. Transit was wildly popular in Europe before North American production was added at Kansas City Assembly Plant. 

“It’s a neat vehicle,” she said. “You don’t often get a chance to just hop in and look. … It’s fun to see because I don’t get to go to the plants anymore, so I don’t get to see the vehicles coming through them like I used to.”

Transit’s versatility was evident from the display, Hanford said, adding that it would also be a great vehicle for transporting seniors with mobility challenges in addition to the many areas where it is already popular.

Understanding customers and their needs

For Mark Roberts, who works in cybersecurity for Ford Pro, the creation of a stand-alone commercial business unit devoted to understanding the needs of and developing solutions for commercial customers shows that Ford is committed to continuous improvement.

“It really drives the consistent message that we’re trying to deliver not just vehicles, but solutions that work for people,” he said. “We’re focused on delivering value to the person who needs it to help make their business to be successful. It’s not about us, it’s about delivering solutions that work for the customer.” 

Roberts, who has a habit of talking to other Ford owners about their vehicles while in public, joined Ford Pro because he was excited about being part of a team fixated on meeting customer demand.

“We’re delivering value directly to somebody who consumes it, not just because it’s pretty, nice, and it feels good, but it drives the economy,” he said. “It’s a direct feed to many small businesses that drive our economy as a whole.”