Blog: Dave LeggettTrump and Ford

Dave Leggett | 30 October 2015

The US presidential campaigning that seems to go on forever is something that can look a little perplexing at times to overseas observers. So, a year ahead of the main event, the two main parties are busy selecting from a narrowing field who they would like to stand in the presidential election. And some of the remarks being made by some of the candidates can be, well, eyebrow raising. And yet, the 'impact comments' get the headlines and appear to find a fair bit of support according to opinion polls. I suspect, though, that the apparent 'support' could dry up when it comes to actually voting for the next president.

Republican Party hopeful Donald Trump has certainly livened things up. The media loves his knockabout style and tendency to cause outrage, to say things that grab headlines and sell newspapers (or garner clicks). Maybe he has struck a chord, hit a kind of anti-establishment vein and general dissatisfaction with the powers-that-be that seems to be present across much of the Western world right now. Or maybe he just causes people to have a subversive laugh, in the moment. A kind of cartoon-ish antidote to these politically correct, on-message times in which we live. Not exactly a career politician, that's for sure. Is he for real?

However, there was actually a very good reminder from Ford CEO Mark Fields this week of the need for a serious head and some common sense when considering economic matters. Hitting a stridently populist note, Donald Trump has criticised Ford for investing in Mexico, investment he would rather see in the US. When I saw the comments, it looked a bit odd to me, to single out a company like Ford on its investment strategy. So, how does Ford respond to that? It's a tricky one. Politicians will be politicians. Any response has to be very carefully worded, to stay above the political fray.

Full marks to Mark Fields this week when asked about the Trump comments on Ford's Mexico investments in an analyst call. This is what he said:

“As a company we deal with the facts and facts are stubborn things and at Ford we're proud of the facts and unfortunately we suspect the facts are getting lost in the politics. The reality and the facts are that we've invested more than $10 billion in the US in our plants since 2011 and we've also added 25,000 US employees. When you look at the way we spent our investments 80% of our North American investments are here in the US and 97% of our engineering is done here in the US.

“We are a multinational company and we invest in all the markets we do business in and you just saw the numbers here in the US; we’ve been in Mexico for 90 years. And this kerfuffle that we've seen around F-650 and our F-750 and what’s going on1, we did resource them from Mexico to Ohio. We made that decision back in 2011 and that was long before any candidates announced their intention to run for US President. As a matter of fact that was made before the last Presidential Election.

“So those are the facts. Facts don't cease to exist because they're ignored, but those are the facts at Ford and we are very proud of the fact of what we do in terms of driving, doing our part to drive the economic development in the US and many other markets we do business around the world.”

Very good answer.

1Donald Trump tweets, October 25:

"Word is that Ford Motor, because of my constant badgering at packed events, is going to cancel their deal to go to Mexico and stay in U.S."

"Do you think I will get credit for keeping Ford in U.S. Who cares, my supporters know the truth. Think what can be done as president!"

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