My family and possibly the beginning of the decline of the Ford automotive business

Posted: April 22, 2011 in General Blogging
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Recently my father told me a story about why our family has never bought Ford trucks or cars. My grandfather didn’t. My father didn’t. And I haven’t. This little story shows how one event can completely change consumers for generations.

Shortly after World War II, my grandfather ordered a car from a dealership. During WWII manufacturing had shifted to manufacturing for the war effort. After the war, car manufacturing began again, but it took about six months to receive a car after it was ordered.

The car my grandfather ordered was a 1950 Ford Coupe. He had been waiting for it for about seven months.  The community that he lived in was small and he heard that some cars had come into the dealership. When he went to pick it up and pay cash for it, the dealership informed him they did not have a car for him. My grandfather presented them with his copy of the invoice, which included the specifics about the car, along with the estimated shipping date.  The salesman at the dealership denied that they had gotten any cars.  The whole situation was suspicious because he had proof that new cars had come in.

My grandfather then talked to the owner of the dealership.  The owner finally admitted that they got in my grandfather’s car, but he had sold it to a local business man.  His reason for doing so was simply that the business man did not want to wait six month.

My grandfather was angry and walked out of the dealership with his cash in hand. He did not get the car and he refused to buy a Ford for the rest of his life, which was another 26 years. Buying this car was quite a big deal. He was a farmer and a car would be a luxury item. It would have been more practical to buy a tractor or farm equipment.  In the end Ford missed out on the sale of another four or five vehicles to my grandfather as a result of this reneging of a sales agreement.

In addition my grandfather had ten children, seven boys and three girls. Guess what! Those ten kids grew up and didn’t buy any Ford cars neither. If one person buys 8 – 10 cars in a lifetime, with ten people it adds up to 80 to 100 vehicles.  Now those ten aunts and uncles of mine had children which was about 28 of my cousins. None of the cousins, including myself, have been buying Fords.  Ford missed out on another 300 to 400 sales or more.

Now we come to me. I did not know this story until recently. I also have not had a specific reason why I never bought a For vehicle.  But I did know that my father did not like Fords.  He had expressed many times as I grew up.  My father is no dummy.  I suspected he had a specific reason, but I had never bothered to ask him why.  I just assumed it was in reference to having poor performance.  So, I have stuck with the family tradition of not buying any Fords throughout my car buying experiences. So far I have bought seven cars. Not one of them has been a Ford. In fact I don’t even look at them in the dealership lots. I suspect I will be buying another at least nine or ten more cars yet in my lifetime. And once again, Ford has missed out on this business.

Now the big question is, will my son buy a Ford when he is an adult, that is if Ford is still in business? Probably not, because he will hear the story and stick to this unusual family tradition.

Now I understand why it is important to keep their customers happy. Or perhaps 500 sold automobiles isn’t worth that much. 

I wonder what my grandfather would think about our tax dollars going to bail out Ford.  It is true they didn’t take the bailout money in 2010 and Ford was gloating in the glory of not needing the bailout money which implied they were doing well at running their company.  The truth is they didn’t have to take the bailout money because they had already received federal help.  In 2008 to assist the automotive manufacturers, the fed bought $45.1 billion in commercial paper from the credit arms of for automakers – Ford, BMW, Chrysler and Toyota – along with GMAC (the former General Motors credit arm). Of those, Ford sold the most, with $15.9 billion.  According to the Fed, the commercial paper loans have been paid in full, while some $2 billion remains outstanding on loans for bond investors.

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