Ford's sales boss was moments from the stage … then the news hit

LOS ANGELES -- You had to feel a bit of sympathy for Ken Czubay, Ford's U.S. sales boss.

He showed up to Thursday's Automotive News marketing seminar in Los Angeles ready to deliver a simple speech about Ford's success this year.

... And BAM!

Fifteen minutes before the speech, a news report goes out saying Ford is considering winding down Mercury.

Czubay's reaction at the lunch table: ''When I find out what's happening, you'll be the second to know,'' he told me with a smile.

Czubay had a tough job. He couldn't say anything even if he did know.

When asked about Mercury during the QandA after his 10-minute address, he toed the line: ''We have no change in our position. We are supportive of all three of our brands.''

But an interesting note: During his speech, images of Mercury vehicles were shown ... but the word never surfaced.