By now, Ford Motor Co. executives surely have grown accustomed to being showered with applause when they remind audiences that the automaker weathered the Great Recession without panhandling for taxpayer help.
That clearly was the case Tuesday afternoon at IndustryWeek's Best Plants Conference when Jim Tetreault -- Ford's head of North American manufacturing -- noted that Ford (IW 500: 6) has "significantly improved the fundamentals of our business without taking any government bailout assistance."
Tetreault (pronounced "Tay-tro") paused for a moment, and sure enough, the several hundred manufacturing managers in attendance at the Indianapolis Convention Center burst into applause.
It wasn't that Tetreault was soliciting a response -- he just knew it was coming.
But if you look past Ford's near-iconic status as the only member of the Detroit Three that didn't need Uncle Sam to hold its hand during the auto industry's darkest days, Ford still has a pretty darn good story to tell.
It starts with Ford's leadership team: CEO Alan Mulally, the architect of the One Ford turnaround plan and the poster child of the auto industry's comeback; Executive Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. -- whom Tetreault, quite earnestly, called "the finest many I've ever known"; and Tetreault himself, a Detroit native and 35-year auto-industry veteran whose breadth of experience enables him to seamlessly shift gears from a 20,000-foot view of Ford's operations to the plant floor.
And the plant floor -- thanks to the One Ford plan -- is where the magic is happening at Ford.