Lee Iacocca, King of Detroit

Nov 25


Dave Cole

Dave Cole

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

Lee Iacocca, the son of a poor ... has become oneof ... most ... business men. From lowly ... through many ... he worked his way up to ... the Chrysler Co


Lee Iacocca, Lee Iacocca, King of Detroit Articles the son of a poor immigrant, has become one
of America's most respected business men. From lowly beginnings
and through many adversities, he worked his way up to President
of the Chrysler Corporation.

Just out of college, he began working for the Ford Motor Company
as a student engineer. On the assembly line, he learned every aspect
of how automobiles were put together.

Although he was awkward and bashful, Lee was promoted to a
salesman. It was there that he met a man who took him under his
wings and taught Iacocca how to be the best salesman he could.

In 1956 sales were slumping at Ford. Iacocca suggested offering
a new 1956 Ford for a modest down payment, followed by three
years of $56 payments. The "56 for 56" idea took off like a rocket.

After 10 long years of hard work, Lee had become an "overnight

Soon he was promoted to work as manager for Ford's national
truck marketing, then another promotion to head the company's
car marketing.

Not stopping there, Iacocca set out to develop his own style of
car. In 1964 Ford introduced the Mustang. Ford dealerships were
literally mobbed with people wanting to buy the car and a new
yearly sales record was established.

In 1970, Lee was promoted to the ultimate position, president
of Ford Motor Company, second in command under Henry Ford II.

Never wanting to stop at success, he kept coming up with
innovative and cost cutting ideas.

But, trouble lay ahead.

Ford was in control, like it or not, and he liked to exercise that
control whatever the consequences might be. Ford began to worry about
this "son of an immigrant" taking over the family business.

It was salami slicing time at Ford. And Henry did it one slice at
a time. Finally, Lee learned through a friend that he too had gotten the


Under the terms of resignation, Iaccoca was given an office until
he found a job. It turned out to be in an obscure warehouse. A little
cubicle with a small desk, one telephone, and cracked linoleum
on the floor.

For Iaccoca it was like being sent to Siberia.

It wasn't long before he was offered the presidency of Chrysler
Corporation. Not exactly a cushy position. Chrysler was in trouble,
big trouble. The same day Chrysler announced the hiring of Lee
Iaccoca, they also announced their worst deficit in history.

The internal affairs at Chrysler were a mess. This was a company
that was going to the dogs, and going there fast.

Rolling up his shirt sleeves, Lee went to work trying to bring
some manner of cohesion to the upper level management. Then he
hired a top notch public relations firm to get back customer confidence.

Things still didn't get any better. To make matters worse, the
world economy in 1979 was falling apart. Gas prices were doubling
and the fuel efficient import cars were taking over domestic sales.

Chrysler got hit hard.

Iaccoca's company was going under and he knew it. There was
only 1 course for him to take. He went to the US Government seeking
loans for a bail out. Congress was not impressed, but Lee had done
his homework. He argued that if Chrysler collapsed it would cost the
country $2.75 billion dollars alone in unemployment benefits.

His speech before the US Congress was so convincing, that
Iacocca and Chrysler got their loans.

In his fight for survival, Lee cut his own salary to $1 a year.
Everybody in management got a salary cut except for the secretaries,
who Iaccoca believed deserved every cent they made.

Next he took on the union and said: "Look boys, I've got a shotgun
to your head. I've got thousands of jobs at seventeen bucks an hour.
I've got no jobs open at twenty."

The company began an all-American ad campaign to promote
their new fuel efficient K-car. The car soon began to sell like hot

His persistence and "never give up" attitude and his willingness
to do whatever measures it took to ensure the viability of the
company worked. Chrysler paid back the loans a full seven years
ahead of their due date.

Lee Iacocca had become a roaring success.

His thoughts are:

"Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God,
do something! Don't just stand there, make something happen. It isn't
easy, but if you keep your nose to the grindstone and work at it, it's
amazing how in a free society you can become as great as you want
to be. And, of course, also be grateful for whatever blessings God
bestows on you."

Article "tagged" as: