What Ford Motor Co. needs is more top execs with nicknames. You know, like "Red" Poling. At least that's the theory of one Ford lifer who's been there since "Hank the Deuce" was CEO.
Technically, "Hank the Deuce" isn't a nickname. It's the way some people refer to Henry Ford II, just as some call Jacques Nasser "Jac the Knife" because he was a cost-cutter.
In addition to Harold "Red" Poling, there also was Charles B. "Tex" Thornton, the former army colonel who led the 10 "Whiz Kids" into Ford after World War II.
But not all nicknames carry the same weight.
Semon Knudsen's nickname, "Bunkie," seems a little trite when you compare it to the "Big Bill" moniker his father, William Signius Knudsen carried. Big Bill was an exec at Ford and General Motors as well as a lieutenant general in the army during WWII.
A number of Ford leaders have been called by diminutives, like Phil Caldwell, Don Petersen and Alex Trotman. And of course William Clay Ford Jr. has been known as Billy and Bill.
But those don't count.
The best nicknames are the ones your buddies hang on you because you've earned them.
So let's see if we can come up with bona fide nicknames for Bill Ford and new Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
Hmmm. Bill Ford plays hockey, so he might be "Slapshot" or "Killer" or "Rocket" or "Gump." Or maybe something more generic like "Boards" or "Skates" or "Stick."
He helps run the Detroit Lions football team, so maybe he's "Skipper" or "Skip" or "Top Cat" or "King."
Alan Mulally hails from aircraft maker Boeing Co., and he's a private pilot, so maybe he ought to be known as "The Captain" or "Flyboy" or "Top Gun."
If you have suggestions, send them to me with a short explanation. We'll publish the best ones, so please don't be snarky or mean-spirited.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]