Ford's European architect
In 1967, Ford put John Andrews in charge of combining Ford's two biggest European business units. Britain and Germany had up to that point functioned as virtually autonomous units.
A native of San Diego, California, who was then general manager of Ford Germany, Andrews believed in maintaining two separate entities, according to Walter Hayes' biography of Ford called Henry.
"It was difficult not to respect the tenacity with which John Andrews held to his point of view, what he called the 'two fishing lines' approach," Hayes wrote. "He was all for better planning and the pooling of resources, but he would not be shaken in his determination to preserve what he saw as the different character of Ford in Britain and Germany and, more to the point, the characteristics of their products."
It was very much like Henry Ford II to choose a man who didn't entirely agree with him to do an important job. Although Andrews disagreed with Ford on the issue of an integrated Ford in Europe, Ford had a huge amount of respect for Andrews' abilities. He knew Andrews could do the job.
Andrews had earned the respect of Ford during his eight-year (1957-65) tenure as head of Ford of Germany. During that period, Ford of Germany's production exploded, from 87,000 units to 506,000 units. Registration of Fords in Europe more than doubled, from 7.8 percent of the market to 18.5 percent, and employment at Ford tripled, from 13,300 to 37,500.
Andrews even earned the praise of Bill Hayden, the tough executive who ran Ford's European manufacturing operations and was then sent in to be the first boss of Jaguar after Ford bought it in 1989.
Hayden, who doesn't impress easily, said of Andrews: "He was brilliant - the best manager I've ever come across in my life."
Jim Donaldson, former Ford of Europe president who was in charge of advance product planning in the early Ford of Europe days, said Andrews employed exceptional diplomatic skill at a time when Ford's British and German executives were very nervous about their futures as the two companies merged into one.
"He was almost like a father figure or uncle figure. He was very civilized - a complete gentleman, with a capital G. He had a disarming smile. He was a very thoughtful guy, an absolute perfect choice for the job. He clearly won over Germans with his gentlemanly caring attitude."
Andrews had the delicate task of bringing together two very proud and independent organizations that jealously guarded their independence. When the two were merged, many executives lost their previous status.
Andrews was aware that there was a perception in Germany that Ford of Europe would quickly become an Anglo-American company. Putting the headquarters in London seemed to cement that.
"So his thing was to aggressively support the Germans," said Jim Donaldson. "He said they [German Fords] were going to have unique appearance. The two big brand names would be protected. If that was the price of getting this marriage, so be it."
Andrews didn't live to see the full effects of the integration. He fell ill with leukaemia and resigned in 1969. He moved back to California and died July 28, 1971 at age 57.
At the 1969 dedication ceremony of the John Andrews Engineering Center in Merkenich, Germany, which Andrews had been unable to attend, Henry Ford II said: "Wherever he went, John Andrews always took the opportunity to immerse himself in the language, and the interests and problems of the people around him, both inside and outside the company.
"Measured by his vision and his deeds, rather than his citizenship, John Andrews is a true European. As a businessman, he has done as much to help the cause of European integration as any man."
You can reach Bradford Wernle at email@example.com.