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My thanks to Alan Mulally for taking a different path

Thank you, Alan Mulally. That's about all I can think of regarding the current state of the domestic franchise system.

Thank you for having the vision to make the necessary cuts in operational expenses. Thank you for building the bridges in dealer relations. Thank you for not seeing the dealer body as a charitable or expendable asset of Ford Motor Co.

Several years ago, when Mr. Mulally joined Ford, he invited all of us Ford dealers to join him in Detroit to revisit the state of the economy with Ford and also to get to know him as our new leader. On the 50-yard line inside Ford Field, he presented himself as a simplistic man with an invaluable vision of what he perceived Ford, the legendary brand, could become in these turbulent times -- with all of our help.

You see, unlike many of the manufacturer meetings that I have attended before with GM, Chrysler and Ford, I recall one of the first items he addressed here at this meeting was that on behalf of Ford: He said, "Thank you."

He repetitively thanked the dealers who continued to believe in Ford and sold its products day in and day out -- the same dealer body that kept the orders submitted, that allowed the factories to continue to pump out those vehicles.

Following this, he then outlined his plan, which was broken down into five steps -- a plan that would need all of our cooperation, a plan that he outlined to us without cue cards or a written speech. He knew to get our "buy in," he had to be one of us. He finalized it with a simple statement: For Ford to be successful, we must work together.

Today, Ford is becoming the industry leader. I believe the tasks that Mr. Mulally has accomplished have been with the help of the entire Ford team, factory workers and dealer personnel. It was his ability that day to speak to the people who represent Ford on a daily basis, his ability to ask for our help with the promise of support, that got us where we are today.

I only wish Chrysler, under Daimler or as privately owned Chrysler LLC, along with GM, could have envisioned this, too. Now with their process of becoming more lean through the termination of dealers, abandonment of their inventory on our lots, not to mention desertion of the dealers who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, in facility improvements, they've left us behind for "greener grass," all in the name of building a stronger company.

A stronger company for whom? The U.S. taxpayer?

Who's safer, the taxpayer or the remaining dealer body?

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