Jackson County Times

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chipola Ford…Part of A Winning Company

Local dealership is proud to be part of Ford Motor Company organization, a privately owned and operated auto manufacturer.

By Sid Riley

This week Ford Motor Company announced third quarter profits of over one billion dollars. While General Motors and Chrysler are in the midst of a restructuring process, emerging from bankruptcy after selling significant portions of their corporations to the U. S. Government and the United Auto Workers, Ford remains an independent producer and marketer of automobiles.

Actually, Ford wisely began the restructuring process in 2005 and is now prepared to operate efficiently in today’s struggling market environment. Ford closed and combined plants, trimmed their overheads, and even developed a strong, unified upper management team after “weeding out’ those top level executives who could not adapt to the new approaches. They thus eliminated roadblocks within their corporate bureaucracy.

Through these efforts the giant corporation became a more productive, efficient company. They simultaneously developed product lines which meet the demands for fuel efficiency while providing the type of performance the American consumer wants. They have also reduced inventories throughout their processes, and have simultaneously improved delivery performance from the factory. What used to be an eight to ten week delivery cycle has been shrunk to a four week cycle. This enables dealerships to operate with less on site inventory, thus saving money throughout the process.

By anticipating the needs of the market and becoming a leaner, better organization before the current market decline occurred, Ford is now positioned to take a leadership role in the industry.

When the story was released about Ford’s quarterly profits, the Jackson County Times decided to interview one of the owners of our local Chipola Ford, Will Rogers. We felt it would be interesting to get his perspective of what is going on in the automotive industry as it relates to Jackson County.

“In my opinion, Ford has demonstrated a high level of professional ability at its upper levels as it dealt with problems within the industry”, Rogers stated. “The foresight they used in obtaining capital, reducing waste and overhead costs, and moving their product designs in the right direction for the new demands of the public are all now paying off for them, and for their dealerships.”

“We have a great product group which offers outstanding gas mileage while maintaining size and power. Our trucks remain leaders in sales for the industry, while our lineup of automobiles covers a wide range of size and pricing. We feel we are ‘on the mark’ for the world of today. Another area where Ford has helped dealers has been the continued availability of financing through Ford Credit. While GMAC was significantly reduced and altered, a situation which negatively impacted many of their dealerships, our financing programs have always been here,” Rogers continued.

“Many people do not realize that an auto dealership is actually five businesses. When they are all operating normally, it is easy to be profitable. However, when two or three are suffering, things can get tough. New Car Sales, Used Car Sales, Service, Parts, and Body Shop, are all actually separately functioning businesses. During the worse months of this current decline, our sales suffered for several months, but the strength of our Service and Parts businesses kept us from getting into trouble. Thankfully, for the past several months all parts of our business are again performing at reasonable levels. I’m not saying sales are back up to what we expect, but they have improved significantly and that part of the business is carrying it’s own weight,” Rogers explained.

“We consider ourselves a family here at Chipola Ford. We spend more time here working together than we spend at home. We try to look out for each other, and that makes our dealership stronger and better. We have made changes which improved our operations and reduced costs, but we never were forced to lay off or fire anyone because of the market. We have let normal attrition reduce our staffing somewhat, but we have worked to enable everyone to keep their job…even during the worse months. Hopefully, that is all behind us now, and we are all looking forward to a great future for our dealership and Ford Motor Company.”

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