Ford's tremendous turnaround, complete

Faced with bankruptcy, Ford made a plan to cut excess businesses and focus on the core. The American automaker has now seen three consecutive years of profits.

A nice report in this morning's Wall Street Journal details the resurgence of U.S. automaker Ford, which like other American carmakers faced bankruptcy during the global economic downturn but somehow managed to avoid it, shed weight and emerge leaner and meaner.

The company has spent the better part of six years restructuring under chief executive Alan Mulally, and now that Mulally is set to retire, the company's board is looking to the architect of that turnaround -- North American operations chief Mark Fields -- as his successor.

As the company's European operations bear further economic distress, it couldn't come at a better time.

Mike Ramsey reports:

[Fields] said that he learned over the past seven years the value of creating a plan and sticking to it. "You lay out a sound strategy and have a relentless focus on execution around that strategy and perseverance. Because over six, seven years we went through some interesting times," Mr. Fields said.

That plan involved the closure of seven plants and the elimination of a quarter of the company's North American workforce to make Ford profitable by 2008. The company shrunk its footprint by 25 percent and managed to post profits as automakers worldwide suffered deep losses in sales, demonstrating that being nimble counts in the face of disaster.

Photo: Sam VarnHagen/Ford

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