A few days after the Ford GT40 won at Le Mans, Ford called a meeting at the Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris. Present were John Andrews, general manager of Ford of Britain, and Stanley Gillen, his counterpart in Germany. Both were Americans.
Walter Hayes recalled Fords words to Andrews at the meeting: What we need is a Ford of Europe to knock a few heads together and make things happen faster. And its no use looking to Dearborn. They have enough on their plate. You have got to do it yourself. Make Ford of Europe.
So the integration began. Jim Donaldson, president of Ford of Europe from 1998 to 1999, says: We formed a giant British-German team of executives as the planning committee for Ford of Europe. We met five days a week. This committee had to pull together a blueprint for launching Ford of Europe.
Ford of Britain and Ford of Germany were frustrated that they were tiny players in Europe. A lot of the troops latched on to Mr. Fords vision that you could add the two shares together. If Ford applied itself it could become a large two-digit share in Europe and not be a bit player. That appealed to the pride of individual guys.
David Burgess Wise, Ford historian, says: It would be difficult to get Britain and Germany to work together so soon after the war. It obviously was a very tough time because people were being pitchforked out of their certain career structures into the unknown.
Some of the product development people involved in the early days of Ford of Europe when all the organization was shattered and stuck together, just sat in their offices at Dunton crying. Their whole careers, which had been on a certain and steady progression until now, had been thrown into the wind and blown away.
Bill Hayden, a young manufacturing executive at the time who would go on to run Fords European manufacturing operation and later its new Jaguar unit, says: There was a mutual distrust. Only a few years before, we were fighting each other in the war. It was funny, when you got them together, all the Brits would say they fought in the Far East and the Germans on the Russian front.
Combining the organizations meant some people would lose their positions. Donaldson says: In almost every case, two jobs became one. We had a young guy called Alex Trotman director of product planning for Ford of Britain. Klaus Amedick was director of product planning in Germany. So when Trotman got the Ford of Europe job, Klaus became the assistant. This happened all through the organization.
Albert Caspers, Ford of Europe chairman from 1994 until 1996 and manager of pilot plant and technical services in the early days of Ford of Europe, recalls: In Germany, we were not prepared at all for this joint venture. The day after it was announced, I was made responsible for pilot plant and technical services. That means we built all the preproduction units right from prototypes up to Job 1. I traveled to London without knowing who I was going to meet (because Ford of Britain had no similar job at Dagenham).
The language barrier was a big issue in deciding who got what job. Hans-Joachim Lehmann, longtime human resources director at Ford of Germany, says: In Germany, nobody ever expected to communicate totally in English. The majority of the senior management in manufacturing and product development was not bilingual. This caused a lot of confusion at the beginning, and it required those who did not speak English to learn the language.
It was those fellows who had a typical German career and only worked in manufacturing who had the greatest problems. If the manager of an engine plant didnt speak English, you had to put him somewhere else and put someone in his place to talk English with others to coordinate engine production.
Hayden remembers it differently:
Every German spoke English. They had to speak English. Americans are singularly inept in languages.
But nobody ever forgot that the company was based in America.