Ford, Tesla, Office Furniture and Our Old Friend Jim

May 30 2017

The past week brought many interesting events. One was Ford Motor Company, the 114-year-old automobile manufacturer, replacing its CEO in light of disappointing results, sagging sales and a stock price hovering at five-year lows near $10 a share.
Elon Musk, the Henry Ford of the advanced transportation age as the founder of the electric vehicle juggernaut Tesla, has no such concerns. Tesla’s market cap now exceeds that of both Ford and General Motors, the world’s largest carmaker. And Tesla’s stock? It’s trading at over $300 a share.
So what gives? Ford sold 2.6 million cars in 2016 while Tesla sold only 76,000 and change. Yet Ford’s stock price dropped 40% while Tesla’s is projected to hit $500 sometime in the not-too-distant future. Ford delivers millions of cars annually, along with a decent return to its shareholders, but it is losing ground to upstarts like Tesla, which boasts a market cap that is valued far above that of the storied Ford brand despite perennially operating in the red (as many tech companies do).
The person charged with turning Ford’s fortunes around is Jim Hackett. As a Genesis client when he was the CEO of the global office furniture brand Steelcase, we learned working alongside him that Jim is an innovator. He transformed Steelcase from a staid company that sold products for cubicle-based isolation chambers into a world-class brand known for equipping workspaces that empower people to work smarter.
We wish Jim the very best and are excited to see what his strategic vision, tech know-how and brand savvy can do to kick Ford into a higher gear. Like Elon Musk at Tesla, he understands how technology can inspire and elevate people. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a self-driving Ford with Steelcase-built bucket seats on the road someday soon.

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