In an interview to mark the company's centennial, Bill Ford spoke with Edward Lapham on April 17 about future leadership at Ford Motor Co. as well as his own future.
Q&A: 'This company means everything to me'
Oh, man - well, I hope I am still involved with the company in some way.
I think to be CEO of a company for 25 years - and at that point it would be 26½ years - that's too much. The grind and the toll it takes are just I love the company, though, and I never want to leave it, and it will always be a very, very important part of my life. I can't imagine ever under any circumstances severing my ties with Ford. I love this place.
I didn't have to do this job; I wanted to do it. Why? Not because I love the hours, not because of the sacrifices of my family, not because I have no interest outside of Ford. My life is my family and Ford, and that is it. I wouldn't have it any other way because this company means everything to me.
I will be involved at some level, maybe as a director, maybe as an adviser to whoever is running the place then, but I'll never leave, at least not completely. In 25 years I'll be 70 years old. I don't think I want to be CEO at age 70. I have a lot of interests in life that I haven't had a chance to pursue. I am naturally a curious person intellectually, and I like to explore new things and try new ideas. And, of course, I do love football.
Oh, I have no idea. We have had success with Fords as CEO, and we have had success with nonfamily members as CEO. It can work either way. But family involvement at some level is very important because it does give us continuity and a sense of accountability.
The employees like to know that there is a family around that cares about this place just as much as they do, that won't take the money and run, and will be there when times are tough and have a long-term interest in the success in this company.
Family involvement is very important, whether it is on the board or in the management of the company. It gives us an identity, a human face to the company, and it gives us a tie right back to our founder.
There are very, very few companies that are 100 years old that can say that. That is the source of a lot of pride to our people who are affiliated with Ford, and it certainly is to our family.
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.