About what? About driving up to Ardmore, TN. Yes, you read that correctly. I said Ardmore, TN. No, there isnt usually anything particularly exciting in Ardmore, a little town on the Tennessee/Alabama border where AL SR 53 meets I-65. But there will be this Saturday as that is where I am meeting teammate Bruce Gennari to pick up the Southeast’s own Ford Edge.
Last year was the Timex Multisport Team’s first year partnering with Ford, but unfortunately I dont think any of the vehicles provided made it south of the Mason Dixon line. This year Ford is back and has given us five brand new Edge crossovers. Unlike last year, though, the southern contingent of Bruce (Nashville, TN), Bo Parrish (Nashville, TN), and myself (Huntsville, AL) were fortunate enough to receive one of the vehicles and Saturday will be my first time driving it. As a result, I’m stoked to finally get to check out all the cool features like the panoramic vista roof, Ford SYNC, and MyFord Touch.
While the features are cutting edge, I’m really just excited to be driving a brand new Ford. I realize this may seem contrived due to the fact they are sponsoring the team, but I have been a big fan of what Alan Mulally has done since taking over as CEO in 2006. Mulally, who had previously been a long-time Boeing employee, took over a company in bad shape turned it around.
Realizing major changes needed to be made, Mulally leveraged all of Ford’s assets, all the way down to the patented nameplate, to borrow around $24 billion. The company used that money to upgrade factories and develop new fuel efficient vehicles, realizing their cash cow (large trucks and SUVs) wouldnt sustain them forever. Meanwhile, it shed costs by reaching a landmark agreement with the UAW to drastically lower future liabilities. All the while, GM and Chrystler, the other two of the “Big 3” US automakers, were churning along with their heads in the sand, producing large trucks and barely hanging on to solvency.
The result? What looked like a desperate moved at the time turned out to be prescient. Fast forward to 2009 and Ford did not have to take a government bailout or have its debt restructured while GM and Chrysler did. This lead to an increase in its market share by about 1%, the first time it had seen a full year increase since 1995. Then, with the economy on the (admittedly still slow) rebound, Ford took advantage, recording a record profit in the third quarter of 2010 off a net income of $1.7 billion.
So the moral here is that smart, effective management trumps government bailouts every time, and thats why I’m excited to get the Edge. Well that, and the fact that sunroofs are sexy.
Come check out the Edge at the Cotton Row Run on Memorial Day in Huntsville, AL, the Coliseum Rock ‘N RollMan Half in Macon, GA on Saturday, June 4th, or the Nashville Kids Triathlon in Nashville, TN on Sunday, June 5th.