Bill Ford, the eponymous chairman of Ford Motor Company, said one of the reasons his business never went completely bankrupt was because of employees’ amazing sacrifices and commitment.
“I’ll remember this to the day I die. You all will probably remember that during the very dark days of the recession, our two principal American competitors, GM and Chrysler, went bankrupt. We didn’t,” Ford said Monday at the SXSW conference, according to Business Insider. “Why didn’t we go bankrupt? Well, you could say we made certain good decisions, but it was our employees. They would not let us.”
Ford attributes his workers’ loyalty and grit for helping to allow the company to refuse government bailout money during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, according to Business Insider.
“Our people were working, Saturdays, Sundays, until 1-2 a.m. in the morning, no extra pay, in fact not even sure they were going to have a job the next morning. In fact, some of them didn’t have jobs the next morning. But they were willing to do whatever it took to pull us through,” he said.
Ford said that it was truly “awesome” to be able to hire most of those people back after it paid off its debt.
He even explained how he received encouraging personal messages from workers throughout the process.
“I got flooded with emails and letters from employees all the way from the plant floor saying, ‘Bill, don’t give up. We can do this. We won’t let you down,'” the chairman said.
Ford referred to the notion that cultivating a work culture that yields loyalty and internal trust is what’s needed to make a successful business.
“A company has to be more than just a paycheck. It has to give people something more. That sometimes gets lost in all of this. It’s so easy to get caught up in technology: software, hardware, business models…” Ford continued, possibly alluding to popular startups currently facing backlash and embarrassments.
Ford isn’t averse to adapting to contemporary tendencies and global economics. (RELATED: Ford’s New China Deal Shows How ‘Unfair’ Trade With China Can Be)
The company, which is one of America’s oldest car manufacturers, announced in February that it is investing $1 billion into a driverless car project, which is what many other big businesses around the world are doing. While the technology is still relatively nascent, the corporation expects its vehicles to have “full autonomy” by 2021.
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