Want to buy a Dodge? Talk to Allan Gilmour, Ford Motor Co.'s new CFO. Gilmour says he is keeping his dealership in St. Johnsbury, Vt., even though the store sells Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles along with Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products. Asked if Ford policy permits one of its highest-ranking execs to sell Chrysler products, Gilmour quipped: "As long as I am not too successful. And so far I've been able to achieve that.'' A spokesman for the Chrysler group said the company is flattered that "the CFO of Ford thinks highly enough of the Chrysler group to own one of our dealerships." Chrysler policy does not prohibit Gilmour's ownership, and his nephew handles daily store management, Chrysler said.
ON THE FRONT LINE - Several Ford Motor Co. executives got a different view of their company this month - from the assembly line. As part of training in lean manufacturing techniques, Roman Krygier, Anne Stevens, Jim Padilla and other Ford leaders took a turn at factory work during the first week of May at the Kentucky truck plant in Louisville. Krygier spent a shift loading inner quarter panels on racks. Did they slow down the line for him? "No way," Krygier said. "Eighteen-second cycle time - I didn't miss a unit." Fellow workers bought him pizza for lunch, and Krygier authorized a design modification to the racks to improve the assembly process.
HEAR THEM ROAR - Like Daniel in the lion's den, longtime auto industry critic Ralph Nader appeared before a ballroom full of import-brand car dealers and other auto executives and employees in Washington last week. He tried to disarm the crowd with compliments, thanking dealers for occasionally tipping him off to defective vehicles and calling them a "countervailing force" to intransigent Detroit. He also tried deadpan humor. After encouraging those present to care about causes bigger than their own businesses and to lobby for such issues as mass transit, a pall fell over the room. Said Nader with a straight face, "I can sense the enthusiasm in the audience."
STAR POWER - After years of acting in his own commercials, car dealer Mark Hodos of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., schmoozed his way onto an episode of "The Weakest Link." The owner of Monarch Dodge won a spot on the game show's afternoon edition. Hodos was the second contestant voted off the show, which was broadcast nationwide on Tuesday, May 21. The auto dealer is no stranger to the small screen. Hodos said he once acted in a lingerie commercial that aired in South America - as an appreciative husband, not a model.
EAT A WORM, GET A RIDE - The 16 contestants in CBS' latest "Survivor" series faced a surprise challenge as the season closed May 19. They all agreed to be blindfolded and eat a mystery food for an unnamed prize. The food: a Gummi worm. The prize: a Saturn Vue for each contestant. Before the season started, Saturn announced it would award a Vue only to the winner. As "Survivor" finale hostess Rosie O'Donnell passed out keys to the sport-utilities, she exclaimed, "Saturn rules!" Who knew?