Excerpt from: Continents Apart: A Voyage of Discovery and Adventure
The professional challenges were equaled to the personal challenges that Carl and I faced when we first arrived in Spain. Typically, when a managing director relocates, there is a formal welcoming, but in Madrid, there was no one there to greet us. At the time, Ford Motor Company had no standing in the business community. When a Ford jet would arrive in Madrid, the airports would not accept the pilot’s BP or Shell credit cards to refuel. Carl always anticipated this, so someone was always there with a pocket full of cash. Ford, at that time, had zero credit, even though the company was investing close to a billion dollars, which was a huge amount of money in those days! It was the biggest single investment that Ford had made anywhere in the world, including the U.S. As the Valencia plant began to function, Ford Spain became a powerhouse, but not in the beginning.
When Carl was first asked by Ford to assume the responsibility of building the Spanish operations, he realized the magnitude of the challenge. He knew that many details would be beyond his control and that, as with any large corporation, if the plan was poorly executed, blame would lay squarely at his feet. But as he recalled years later, “You couldn’t turn down a promotion at Ford.”
I still have a notebook of the letters of congratulations that Carl received from around the world from his Ford friends and other colleagues. Many expressed the sentiment: “What an exciting job…I’m glad it’s you and not me!” Carl realized the risk involved – the risk for him and the risk for Ford.
Upon our arrival in Madrid, Carl and I set up in the Eurobuilding Hotel, where we were staying, taking about six rooms for our new offices. Carl sent me to buy office supplies, including glue to put the Ford oval emblems on the doors. My Spanish was limited at that time, and I had to determine which of three different glues would not be too permanent, so that the ovals could be removed when the company eventually moved to its regular offices at Plaza Cuzco. Nevertheless, it was not long before the news spread of Ford’s presence in Spain.