As the Irish Examiner’s Ford 100 coverage draws to a close, Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Henry Ford & Son Ltd, reflects on a momentous journey through 2017.
The decision by Henry Ford to open a factory in Cork — the land of his ancestors — in 1917 was so momentous that it shaped the industrial life of the city and the entire country for generations.
Indeed, its effects are still reverberating today.
The decision by Henry Ford & Son Ltd to mark the centenary of that achievement with a year of celebrations and events across Ireland in 2017 was an easy one.
In a sense, it has been a family reunion: Ford being a family company to this day, and its employees are all part of that extended family.
It was a privilege and a pleasure this year to meet and hear stories from Ford workers past and present, many of whom were employed at the iconic plant on the Marina during its 67 years in operation.
There have been so many highlights — the centenary gala ball at Cork City Hall, the civic reception for the company’s pensioners at the same venue, and, of course, the visit of William Clay Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, to Cork in April.
A great-grandson of the founding father Henry Ford, William and his family were given a fantastic welcome when they visited the land of their roots in Ballinascarthy, and I know they took away many treasured memories of their journey to Cork, their spiritual home.
Henry Ford & Son Ltd also played a big role in many 2017 events, including St Patrick’s Day parades and the West Cork Vintage Ploughing and Threshing Association’s heritage day.
It was important that we celebrated the centenary. Ford is proud of its Cork and Irish heritage, but we are always mindful of the future, and this year was also about the next stage in the company’s development.
The industry will change more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 50, and we at Ford want to be at the forefront of that.
We are a mobility company, not just a motoring company. We will continue to lead the way in technological developments, shared ownership solutions, and new mobility services, and will play a leading role in making autonomous driving vehicles a reality.
During the visit of William Clay Ford Jr., this desire to embrace the future was underpinned when he announced the company’s support for UCC’s Quercus Talented Students Programme over the next five years.
This programme supports and promotes excellence for prospective undergraduate students in UCC and Henry Ford & Son Ltd wants to tap into their creativity.
The ‘Ford 100’ campaign has been a wonderful celebration, and I want to thank the Irish Examiner for being our media partners for the past ten months.
Equally, I would extend warm thanks to the Henry Ford & Son Ltd staff; our dealer body across the country; and, indeed, the general public, for their support of and interest in our Ford 100 activities across the year.
We are proud of the past 100 years. We look forward to being here for the next 100 years.
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