BRADFORD WERNLE

Scheele wasn't too big to solve a paint problem

COMMENTARY
Bradford Wernle covers Ford for Automotive News.
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Former Ford Motor Co. President Nick Scheele, who died this month at age 70, left warm memories throughout the auto industry. Scheele ran both Ford of Europe and Jaguar before coming to the United States in 2001. In those days, he frequently met with Staff Reporter Bradford Wernle, who was posted at Automotive News Europe in London from 1998 to 2005. Wernle recalls an encounter with Scheele in May 2001.

I was among a group of journalists invited to Turkey for a press conference and festivities to launch production of the Transit and Transit Connect commercial vans at Ford's Otosan Kocaeli factory about 50 miles east of Istanbul.

After we had toured the factory and eaten lunch, there was a lull in the activities as I was waiting to interview some Ford officials. I leaned up against a railing in the plant and noticed a sticky sensation. I turned around to see that I had a nice, fat stripe of wet white paint on the back of my suit coat.

Just as I was surveying the damage, Scheele, then chairman of Ford of Europe, happened to be passing by and noticed my predicament.

Nick Scheele's easygoing style won him many friends in the industry.

"Brad, you should know better than to touch anything at a car plant when corporate executives and politicians are in town for a visit," he said with a broad grin. "It's highly likely there will be fresh paint around."

I scarcely had time to reply before Scheele told me he was going to go and locate someone who could help clean the paint off my jacket. And sure enough, within moments, he returned with a man who had some solvent and carefully wicked the paint out with a clean white cloth.

You can reach Bradford Wernle at bwernle@crain.com.


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