Below is an excerpt from a discussion with Ford Asia Pacific and Africa President Joe Hinrichs regarding the company's new Go Further global brand promise.
Q. How do you describe Go Further to your team in APA?
A. We really go back to the heritage of Ford Motor Company and talk about where it all began. We talk about Henry Ford’s vision of opening the highways to all mankind, which we really get the opportunity to do in Asia Pacific and Africa. Two-thirds of our buyers are first-time buyers who never bought a car before. And in terms of people serving people, the mobility solutions we offer really enriching people’s lives. So the opportunity for us is how do we serve people in that capacity in a new way by going further than their expectations with regard to the products and also our services – and how do we teach our new employees about what it means to be a part of Ford and go further in all the things that we do.
Q. What does Go Further mean to you personally?
A. It really means communicating what Ford is about as a company, as a culture, about how we serve others. Some of the best moments I’ve had at Ford have been in community service projects and part of charities. And that’s part of our DNA. It’s part of who we are. And our new technology, the affordability of our products and the technology that’s all about who we are back in the days of Henry Ford. That’s what it means to me. It’s really about how do we give more to our customers – especially those who haven’t experienced Ford before.
Q.Can you give some examples from your region of how your team has already gone further?
A. Well you think about the end of 2011 where we had the floods in Thailand. That’s where we have a significant presence in Bangkok. We had employees with divers that we hired on rafts with makeshift generators with cranes trying to locate dies so that we could keep supplying Rangers to our customers. I mean that’s a whole different world. Then, if you talk about the communities we are part of in China, India and Southeast Asia, these are developing countries. These are people are reaching economic levels for the first time where they can think about transportation. We’re out there doing community service projects. We’re doing Driving Skills for Life teaching new drivers how to drive safely. These are just examples of things that we do in our region to go further.
Q. How do you feel Go Further helps distinguish Ford from its competitors?
A. I think part of it is our heritage and our history of more than 100 years. I also think it’s our employees. It’s our dealers, our suppliers, our partners in the Asian part of the world where we have joint venture partners. It’s about who we are as a culture. It’s about being humble, but also about wanting to reach further and provide all these new car buyers the opportunity to experience something at Q. Ford that they wouldn’t be able to experience anywhere else.
Q. Do you foresee any changes in the way your team will operate in the year ahead?
A. I think the challenge for us as we look at having 13 different markets in different time zones and continents is really bringing everybody together and making sure that we all understand how we want to communicate together. When you talk about what we do differently, I think one of the opportunities for us, of course, is to have this central DNA about how we talk about our brand, how we go to advertising, how we set up our dealer showrooms, then how we communicate with our dealers and ultimately our customers. All of that will be impacted by the Go Further brand promise and the work that was done behind that.
Q. As you look back over 2011, what are the things you are most proud of?
A. Unfortunately in 2011, we had a large number of natural disasters – from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami to the earthquakes in New Zealand to the floods in Thailand and in Australia. We even had hail the last day of the year in Melbourne that damaged vehicles. Our people have really had to rally together to respond to natural disasters unlike any other time in our history. It just shows the capability and the teamwork that we have. I’m really proud of how we dealt with those situations, but they were really challenging.
Of course we also are dealing with tremendous growth. We grew again significantly in Asia Pacific and Africa in 2011. We have seven new manufacturing sites under construction. We’re adding two dealers a week in China, a dealer every ten days in India. Just dealing with all this growth. It’s very fascinating and exciting and I’m proud of the way the team has come together to deal with it.
Q. As you look forward to 2012, what are some of the major challenges?
A. It’s all about dealing with the aggressive growth plans we have for the region, and our exciting new products. We’re going to launch the new Focus in a new plant in Thailand and in a new plant in China this year. We’re opening brand new plants with a great product, the Focus. We’re launching other products like Kuga or other products like Ecosport, which we announced last week in Delhi. We’re doubling our workforce in China over the next couple of years, again opening all the new manufacturing plants, all the dealers. It’s all ahead of us in 2012. It’s just growth at a pace we haven’t seen before and our employees are embracing it and embracing the challenges associated with it.