William Clay Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company
Executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of the company’s founder Henry Ford, William Clay Ford visited Ballinascarthy to commemorate 100 years of Ford in Ireland during April.
Businesses from all over the world have been calling Ireland home for decades. But it was Henry Ford & Son Ltd that were the first to set up a manufacturing base here. Since then the company has continued its investment in Ireland.
Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Michigan. With about 201,000 employees and 62 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles.
Ballinascarthy in Cork city is where Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, and his family emigrated from in 1847.
“I am excited and honoured to be coming home to Cork to celebrate 100 years of Ford in Ireland,” said Bill Ford. “Ford has deep roots in Cork, not only through my family’s historical connection, but also through the impact that the Ford factory has had as an engine for prosperity for the area over many decades.”
During his visit Bill Ford also took part in a civic reception at Cork City Hall at which the contribution of employees of Henry Ford & Son Limited during the past 100 years was recognised.
Henry Ford chose his ancestral home city of Cork as the site for the first purpose-built Ford Motor Company factory outside of North America, established in April 1917.
The Fordson tractor was initially the main product of the Cork plant, which by 1929 had become the largest tractor factory in the world. The factory also produced passenger cars including the iconic Model T. The last Model T ever produced by Ford anywhere in the world rolled off the Cork factory production line in December 1928. The Model A, Model BF, Model Y, Prefect, Anglia, Escort, Cortina and Sierra models also were manufactured in Cork until the plant’s closure in 1984.
Ford today has the widest network of dealers of any automotive manufacturer in Ireland, with 52 dealerships providing direct and indirect employment to 1,000 people across the country.
I’m especially excited that this scholarship provides the opportunity for us to support a new generation of innovators and leaders that can help shape the future for the next 100 years
Cork celebrated the 50-year anniversary in 1967. As part of that landmark event, a £2m investment program was announced to re-build re-equip and modernise the assembly plant. As a result, the plant was to become the largest and most modern factory of its kind in Ireland.
In the same year Ford of Europe was formed with Henry Ford & Son Limited. It was as an important partnership from the start. Another £2m was spent on assembly facilities and operations to ensure that Cork production equalled the highest European standards of quality.
The company’s links to Ireland remain strong. Henry Ford & Son Ltd operates in the Republic of Ireland as a sales organisation with 60 Ford dealerships.
To coincide with the 100-year anniversary, Ford has announced a new five-year scholarship with UCC.
The Ford Centenary Quercus Scholarship will run for five years, beginning with the 2017-18 academic year and will run until 2022.
UCC’s Quercus Talented Students’ programme has been in operation since 2015, supporting excellence for UCC and undergraduate students.
During the visit, William Clay Ford commented: “With both deep personal and business connections to Ireland, I am delighted to celebrate not only 100 years of Ford in Ireland this week, but also to support the advancement of talented students at UCC with this new scholarship programme.
“While we have a lot to celebrate about our past, I’m especially excited that this scholarship provides the opportunity for us to support a new generation of innovators and leaders that can help shape the future for the next 100 years.”
William Clay Ford later received an honorary Doctorate of Economic Science from the National University of Ireland and UCC.