When Ford CEO Alan Mulally arrived at the automaker five years ago this month, he seemed an unlikely choice to lead the most storied and iconic auto company in the U.S. Today, at 65, he is probably destined to go down as one of the best all-time CEOs in the auto industry.
Having been passed over twice at Boeing for the top job and admitting to being the owner of a Lexus sedan, he appeared to many to be just another outsider coming to Detroit's insular culture who would crash and burn like so many before him. Detroit, history showed, did not treat outsiders very well. And only the most steel-hardened executives had succeeded without growing up within one of the automotive cathedrals of the Motor City-Ford, GM or Chrysler.
Mulally, however, set the tone and perhaps blazed a trail for other outsiders who have good ideas and the management skills and discipline to turn them into real cars and trucks. He helped steer the automaker through the industry's near collapse in 2009, when both GM and Chrysler found themselves in bankruptcy proceedings.
Mulally's success in some ways proved the point that the right outsiders could revamp Detroit's automakers and point them on successful paths. After Mulally came Sergio Marchionne from Fiat to Chrysler, and Ed Whittacre Jr. and Dan Akerson from the telecommunications industry to General Motors.
[See Part One of AOL Autos Interview with Ford CEO Alan Mulally here]
In Part Two of our interview with CEO Alan Mulally, he discusses his negotiations and relationship with the United Auto Workers this month, making the automaker more competitive and toy road ahead for keeping Ford profitable.
Ford used to be locked in to building cars at one kind of plant and trucks and SUVs at another kind. It was very inefficient. Today, Ford is much more flexible, and, for example, is building the Taurus and Explorer at the same Chicago assembly plant, and exporting those vehicles to other countries.
The CEO also addresses his compensation package, which recently came under fire from the United Auto Workers president Bob King and rank and file union members.