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What Bill Ford and Mark Reuss already know

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What Bill Ford and Mark Reuss already know

Automotive News -- June 14, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

Recently I got a chance to visit with Bill Ford at a Detroit event.

It happened to be the 75th anniversary celebration of the Detroit Economic Club, of which he is chairman as well as a major supporter and donor.

We had a great chat. I was impressed by how much he has grown since handing off Ford Motor Co. CEO responsibilities to Alan Mulally.

But it's not unusual to bump into Bill Ford at evening events because, like so many other auto execs before him, he is involved with local charities, foundations and associations.

Traditionally, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and, yes, Toyota -- plus their executives -- have been big Motor City supporters.

Bill Ford is a go-to guy in the Detroit community.

Coincidentally, one of the things Bill Ford and I talked about that night was how important it is for the newcomers in town to get involved ... and how we haven't seen as much receptiveness to outreach from the community as we might have hoped or expected.

So it was especially nice to see GM CEO Ed Whitacre there, too.

Some executives seem to get it instinctively.

Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, must have signed up to be honorary chair of this fall's Cattle Baron's Ball before his furniture was moved into his new office. Of course, Reuss is a second-generation GM lifer.

The Cattle Baron's Ball is a big annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. In the local version of the event, GM has been the lead automotive backer, although others are involved.

Conspiracy theorists don't like to see auto execs belonging to the same clubs, on the same boards, supporting the same charities or even in the same room. To some, having auto execs in proximity smacks of the kind of collusion you might see in a mobster movie like The Godfather. Not so.

If the newcomers are going to be part of the industry, they need to be part of the community.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100614/OEM02/306149937/-1#ixzz0qpmPPtWX

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