• Nov 15, 2006
Steve Wilson, a reporter for WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit, has taken the President of the Americas for Ford Motor Company, Mark Fields, to task for the weekly flights the executive takes from Detroit to his home in Delray Beach, Florida. Fields uses a company jet for the flights, which itself isn't the issue since the trips are approved by his employment contract. Wilson, however, estimates that each weekly trip costs between $50,000 and $70,000, essentially an entire year's salary for many who work at Ford. Those high figures include the cost of flying one passenger with a crew of three, and either putting the crew up in a luxury hotel for the weekend or having the jet return to Detroit and fly back to fetch Fields before Monday.
Fields has been quoted as saying, "We are making sacrifices at every level." The person who hired Fields, ex-CEO Bill Ford Jr., surely made sacrifices. The great-grandson of Henry Ford announced he would forego any and all compensation back in May of 2005 until his family's company begins turning a profit again. Of course, Mark Fields is not a member of the Ford family and no expects him to forego a salary, which last year reportedly amounted to $3 million including a $1 million bonus. Wilson, however, clearly sees the hypocrisy of an executive asking his workforce to sacrifice their wages, health care and even their jobs while he drains the company of funds he could cleary afford to cover himself.

The weekly trips home on the company jet are seen by Ford as an incentive to attract and retain talent the automaker sorely needs to turn its fortunes around. Hopefully Mark Fields is the man for that job, and if he succeeds we won't say a word every time he boards the Blue Oval jet. But at this moment when Ford is struggling to remain solvent, even if the overall impact is minimal, the gesture of foregoing some of those expensive perks goes a long way.

Thanks to Joe for the tip!

[Source: WXYZ.com]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Ford Motor Company is probably picking up the cost of Field's Detroit weekday accommodation too.

      High priced executives are usually better at talking the talk than walking the walk. UAW members have every right to be furious.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #18 (Phil): "$3,000,000 won't do anything for product development but design a power seat switch. BETTER ADD THREE MORE ZEROES!!! People who don't know this are the typical idiots who never research things before they critique!"

      Okay, let's do the math. Even assuming a very generous base salary of $90K for each automotive engineer, plus another $45K each for benefits, $3 million will get you a group of 15 engineers, plus almost $1 million left over for expenses (facility, equipment and product purchases, business-class air travel, etc.) I have worked in product development for many years in many different industries, and a group of 15 engineers can do a lot more than develop a single switch in a year. What you wrote is pure nonsense, and people who don't know this are the true idiots who never research things before they critique.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I work for this sinking ship, so this is close to my heart. First of all, in response to #15 I HIGHLY doubt Mark Fields has taken a single day of vacation for the past 12 months. Maybe a "working" vacation day. These guys make huge personal sacrafices. But they also get hugely rewarded. Insanely rewarded, non-sensically rewarded. I agree we shouldn't villainize him, rather the board who offered him this incentive along with $3 million. What does this tell me? Keep up my job search. I hear Nissan is hiring.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A symbolic gesture for him to NOT use a private jet? Exactly. It's called being a leader and trying to lead people... and sometimes that calls for symbolic gestures. Sometimes it calls for doing the right thing, which would have been to do like most normal people who have to relocate high-paying new job. Suck it up, Hockey Hair, and move your family and/or fly, god forbid, first class. At least nobody is suggesting you fly Southwest coach with the rest of the mullets.
      DriftPunch
      • 8 Years Ago
      "The weekly trips home on the company jet are seen by Ford as an incentive to attract and retain talent the automaker sorely needs to turn its fortunes around"

      The only time that 'that type' of talent is needed, is when a merger/dissolution/going public artist is needed. Ergo, someone who can run the gauntlet between lawers, stockholders, creditors, and regulators. Ford needs a business manager, not a wall street whiz.

      This guy is not much of a business manager, if he can rationalize 3+ million annually for his own trips home. FLY FIRST CLASS DOUCHEBAG! He sets quite a tone, doesn't he.
      • 8 Years Ago
      That's insane. I guess flying first class would be below him? I don't even see his bold moves. You have Freestyle about to canibalize the Edge, and a stubborn insistence on not bringing hot-selling Euro cars over.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "When an automaker spends money irresponsibly, , the public buys cars from other companies."

      Yup. And then the Big Three (2.5, whatever) get a meeting with the President and start asking for handouts.

      What, you thought this was a market economy? Silly Rocket.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is just another example of an inbred board using the good ole boy network to pass perks to each other. There is no free market in these packages any more than there is when Congress passes their own raises. This is also an example of something that a free market should take care of, but sometimes parts of the free market get out of control and mutate into uncontrolled chain reactions that nothing short of legislation will correct. I hate to see gov't legislate this kind of thing but then I think it's grown beyond the ability of the general public to control. Laws are for people who don't know any better and executives today surely don't.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #14 (PuffyC): "I hate to see gov't legislate this kind of thing but then I think it's grown beyond the ability of the general public to control."

      Actually, it is well within the public's ability to rein in this sort of nonsense. When an automaker spends money irresponsibly, either by caving in to top management or to the UAW, it would not have enough money left over for meaningful product development, as #13 (Ty) pointed out. And when their products suffer, the public buys cars from other companies. In the long run, automakers who manage money poorly will go out of business, and those who manage money well will remain. This is the competitive nature of a free market economy, and if Ford doesn't get it, it doesn't deserve to survive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #19 (Lee Gibson): "And then the Big Three (2.5, whatever) get a meeting with the President and start asking for handouts. What, you thought this was a market economy? Silly Rocket."

      Do you even remember what happened to the airline industry? Sure, the airlines received a government bailout, but on top of that, they had to declare bankruptcy, which allowed them to legally void and nullify costly union contracts, and to negotiate for newer, more favorable contract terms.

      The same thing can, and likely will, happen to the Big Three. Government bailout aside, if history is any indication, the UAW will get their comeuppance. It will be driven by consumers who vote with their dollars, and who refuse to pay the high cost of union labor in this country. And when consumers decide the outcome, that is what a market economy is all about. Get it?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I would estimate that all of the fuel used on these trips completely erases the benefit of a year's worth of Mercury Mariner Hybrids. This makes Bill Ford look hypocritical when preaching about being "green".
      • 8 Years Ago
      For those of you outside Detroit or if you missed any of the broadcasts, here are the links where you can watch the three reports on demand:

      Part I (Details Big-3 and Supplier Companies where CEO's use corporate jets for personal travel)

      http://www.wxyz.com/cr/cda/player/1,1272,WXYZ_49346_320_240,00.html

      Part II (Details use of Ford corp jets for personal use)

      http://www.wxyz.com/cr/cda/player/1,1272,WXYZ_49347_320_240,00.html

      Part III (Details Ford's Mark Fields' weekly commutes in corporate jet at company expense)

      http://www.wxyz.com/cr/cda/player/1,1272,WXYZ_49348_320_240,00.html


      Steve Wilson
      wilson@wxyz.com




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