What Bill Ford Learned About Life, Business From His Father

While 2014 will put Ford Motor Co. to the test, Executive Chairman Bill Ford says the company is up for the challenge.

In a Conference Room interview with FBN’s Jeff Flock, Ford says the company will be putting out 23 new products this year.

“We’ve never had anything like this in our entire industry, and so we’re building plants all around the world. We’re launching for us an unprecedented number of new products that will pay off,” says Ford. “This is a year where we’ve got a lot of hard work to do.”

Luckily, Ford says he got plenty of good advice from his father, William Ford, Sr., who died last month at age 88.

“He always had a very independent viewpoint on what was right and wrong, and he always took the long view,” says Ford. “My father had seen enough in his lifetime to not get too rattled by the moment, and so he was very much behind the fact that … We took a big bet on technology, on reinventing our company.”

Ford says his father always told him to stay the course.

“It shows the love we have for this company. Maybe it sounds trite in this day and age to talk about loving a company but it’s true. For me, Ford has never been a job -- it’s my life,” says Ford.

Ford also says he holds a lot of confidence in Alan Mulally, who has been president and CEO of Ford Motor Co. since 2006. Previously, Ford himself was serving as CEO, COO and president.

“One of the things we’ve done is we’ve developed a really good team …That’s part of what a great CEO does, is not just do a wonderful job but get the next generation ready, and Alan does that,” says Ford.

And while Ford laughingly admits he wants Mulally to stay at Ford until his death, he says he understands it may not last quite that long. Earlier this year, there was speculation that Mulally might leave to take the top spot at Microsoft.

“These are tough jobs and they wear on you,” says Ford. “No matter how good a job you’re doing, it wears on you.”

Ford says part of the problem is the pace of doing business in today’s tech-driven world. “These used to be jobs where you’d go home at night. There was no cell phone; there was no email; there were no texts,” says Ford. “You didn’t operate as globally as you do today. Now you have to be available 24/7.”