Ford chairman claims employees saved company from bankruptcy

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Ford Chairman Bill Ford credits his employees’ selfless act and hard work for preventing the company from declaring bankruptcy and allowing it to decline government bailout funds during the 2008 economic fallout, reports The Daily Caller.

When the economy was turned upside down in 2008, most automakers were facing the prospect of bankruptcy, that is until the U.S. government came to the rescue and provided GM and Chrysler and other automakers with a $79.7 billion bailout. Despite desperately needing the money to keep afloat, Ford famously turned it down.

On Monday, at the SXSW conference, chairman Ford recounted a story of why the auto giant decided to forego the government’s assistance and avoided bankruptcy. According to Business Insider, Ford claimed his employees, who feared for the company’s future and the security of their own jobs, stepped up to the plate and volunteered to work without pay.

“I’ll remember this to the day I die. You all will probably remember that during the very dark days of the recession, our two principal American competitors, GM and Chrysler, went bankrupt. We didn’t,” Ford said at the SXSW conference. “Why didn’t we go bankrupt? Well, you could say we made certain good decisions, but it was our employees. They would not let us.”

He recalled how he got inundated with emails from employees of all ranks saying, “‘Bill, don’t give up. We can do this. We won’t let you down.” He pointed out how the roles were reversed and those types of emails are usually “top-down messages” coming from executive to employees.

“Our people were working, Saturdays, Sundays, until 1-2 a.m. in the morning, no extra pay, in fact not even sure they were going to have a job the next morning. In fact, some of them didn’t have jobs the next morning. But they were willing to do whatever it took to pull us through,” Ford added.

After the company we able to make good on its debts, he said the company was able to “rehire almost everybody,” which he said was truly “awesome.”

The Ford chairman also offered sage advice about the ingredient to business success, possibly directed at Silicon Valley technology startups currently facing backlash for missteps:

“A company has to be more than just a paycheck. It has to give people something more. That sometimes gets lost in all of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in technology: software, hardware, business models…”

“That sometimes gets lost in all of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in technology: software, hardware, business models, all of which are important. If you don’t have a culture that means something, then you’re just going to have the experience of a bunch of transient employees who go to the next company, to the next great idea, and they won’t give it a second thought.”

H/T: Daily Caller 

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