All the media coverage – and speculation – about the future of American automobile companies, it’s really interesting to me. While I hadn’t yet been born when Henry Ford and General Motors founder William Durant were alive, as a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, I remember learning about Ford Company’s going bankrupt in 1901, and then getting reorganized into Ford Motor Company, and about how Durant went from $120 million to bankruptcy during the Great Depression.
A recent New York Times article recalls how Henry Ford’s company was the world’s number two automaker, with GM being Number One. The Times remarks how ironic it is that today Ford is the only automaker in a position to refuse a government bailout! That’s not to say the company’s operating at a profit. Only two weeks ago, Ford announced 2008 losses of $14.5 billion, its worst year in history. But the company is planning “their own stimulus package”, by creating new products and planning innovative ways to pull themselves out of the recession.
Part of Ford’s “rebuilding” plan depends on state-of-the-art gadgetry, I’m learning, including adaptive headlights, radar cruise control, and an intelligent key system, not to mention SYNC system hands-free control of cell phones and I-pods, plus Active Park Assist.
If all this talk of technology makes me sound like a car buff – that’s certainly far from the truth. It’s just that, as a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, where car manufacturing has been such a mainstay of our economy for so many years, I see the direct effects of the automobile industry shakeup in the layoffs that have ensued. And, as I explained in Debt And Possible Bankruptcy On Wheels For Car Companies And Car Owners, plant closings affect not only those Hoosiers direct employed there, but those who work in sectors supported by car companies.
Then, as my clients emerge from bankruptcy, not only do they need income to rebuild their financial lives, they need cars to take them to their work. What I like about Ford’s plans is those plans are about rebuilding, and rebuilding after bankruptcy is really what the bankruptcy court system, and my work for the past twenty-some years are all about.