“Innovation is critical for companies, communities and countries that want to be successful,” Bill Ford, Chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company, said at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce Spirit of Innovation Awards Luncheon on Wednesday.
There were some 1,200 attendees at the luncheon at the Convention and Trade Center.
Specialized Enterprises Inc. of Cleveland, Tn., was named the winner of the Kruesi Spirit of Innovation Award.
Also, the Chattanoooga Technology Council presented its new Technology Innovation Award to Tricycle, Inc.
In the past, Ford Motor Company was successful because of its ingenious ways of applying pre-existing technology such as the mass assembly line, Mr. Ford said. However, “today we are proud of our past, but nostalgia will not take us far in a rapidly changing world,” he said, but rather “innovation is the center for future plans.”
The Escape Hybrid, the cleanest and most fuel efficient SUV, is one of the most recent innovations in the Ford Company, Mr. Ford said. “There are many obstacles to overcome but the potential of hydrogen power is tremendous” he said. He noted that in the next three years, Ford will release four more hybrids.
Ford Motor Company is working toward making their products even more environmentally clean and efficient, the speaker said. The company partners with other companies globally to work toward their goals, Mr. Ford said.
He said Ford's automobiles are now 99 percent cleaner than they were in the 1960’s.
He said Ford Motor Company has provided 6.5 million jobs and has the most leading edge technology. Manufacturing still drives America’s economy and the automobile industry is the largest factor, said Mr. Ford.
Mr. Ford said his great-grandfather’s goal was to make affordable transportation. He said he has expanded this aim to make transportation not only affordable economically but also socially and environmentally. Mr. Ford said taking social and environmental responsibilities is an outstanding business opportunity that provides ways to save and make money.
Mr. Ford used the Rouge manufacturing complex as an example of the company’s efforts to innovate in all areas. The Rouge manufacturing complex stopped being used and many believed it was an eyesore that should be torn down. Mr. Ford said he felt that it is an industrial relic, so he had the building renovated into a modernized, aesthetic and useful building.
Asia has been a place for dynamic growth for the Ford Company and the company hase made massive investments there, Mr. Ford said in a press conference. He said Mazda is their partner in this territory.
Mr. Ford said it is evident that Chattanooga cares about people and the future. “What is unique about this community is how you all sing off the same song sheet” he said. He said the Kruesi Award is evidence of how companies are created well and nurtured in the community. He believes that there is a definite entrepreneurial spirit in Chattanooga.
Mr. Ford said he loves carrying on the traditions of the 100-year-old Ford Company. “I want to leave my children and grandchildren a legacy they can be proud of.”
Ivan Allen Workspace and Steelcase were the sponsors of the Kruesi Award and banquet. The Ivan Allen Company was founded about the same time as Ford Motor Company. Like Mr. Ford, Louise R. Allen is a fourth generation CEO. She became CEO in May 2005.
Specialized Enterprises Inc. was a candidate for the innovation award for its Fluid Exchange System for high-volume maintenance vehicles, such as vans, trucks or military service vehicles. The system consists of a replacement fitting that is substituted for the vehicle’s original oil drain plug and allows for the automatic changing of vehicle fluids using Specialized Enterprises’ oil change machines. The company has developed two versions of the oil change machines: a permanently mounted service shop unit and a mobile unit that can be taken directly to vehicles requiring oil changes and services.
“Our system is the fastest oil change available,’’ said Specialized Enterprises president David McKin. “We can remove and replenish a 44-quart oil pan in five minutes using our automated system. We have no other current competitors with a product line such as this.”
Tricycle Inc. was chosen as a finalist for “SIM by Tricycle.” This process for creating a digital representation of tufted carpet combines yarn color, manufacturing machine data and design file information. The result is a believable, color-accurate image of carpet that can be viewed online or as a high-quality paper print. Tricycle President Jonathan Bragdon points out that the Tricycle samples save carpet mills the cost and time of creating tufted samples and reduce the number of tufted samples discarded in landfills.
Louise R. Allen, fourth generation CEO of Ivan Allen, is shown with her father, former CEO.
- Photo2 by Suzanne Walker