Jim Farley was a star executive at Toyota, rising to Group Vice President of marketing of the Lexus division at 45 years old.
Six months into that position, he was convinced to leave and join Ford, where his grandfather had worked during its glory days.
AT a dinner here at the Bellagio hotel about two weeks ago, the ballroom buzzed with 1,400 car dealers fired up for a turnaround at the Ford Motor Company. With fresh products coming and a new ad campaign in place, they were ready to celebrate an attempted comeback by the struggling Detroit automaker.
As the lights dimmed, Mr. Farley didn’t lead cheers or shout slogans. Instead, he spoke from the heart, revealing a depth of passion for Ford that turned the room dead silent.
He talked about his grandfather, who had gone to work for Henry Ford at the celebrated Rouge plant in 1914; about his first car, a vintage 1966 Mustang; and about the dealers and their families and their livelihoods.
Like a shy actor blossoming on stage, Mr. Farley became swept up in the emotional power of the moment. “I believe, in many ways, the future of Ford is the future of our country,” he said. “The work here is simply more important than the work I was doing at Toyota.” When he finished, the dealers rose for a standing ovation that left Mr. Farley momentarily stunned. After the applause died down, he savored the reaction.
“These people,” he said, “want to believe.”
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