Ford Motor Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alexander J. Trotman urged approximately 170 Boston-area business leaders at Tuesday's Chief Executives Club of Boston luncheon to prepare for a "borderless world," and intensified competition as a result, as they look toward the future.
Held at the Boston Harbor Hotel, the luncheon was the 15th gathering of the club, organized three years ago through the Carroll School of Management to bring together top executives to discuss issues in business and management. Edward C. Johnson 3d, chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments, hosted the luncheon, which was followed later in the day by the re-dedication of Fulton Hall.
In his talk, Trotman said, "The world is changing much faster than people appreciate and businesses need to look at the implications for business, government, overall competitiveness and standards of living if they are to stay competitive."
Trotman said the end of geographic boundaries in business is becoming evident, as trade agreements like NAFTA and GATT, and developments in previously closed societies such as the former Soviet Union and China, all work to widen the playing field for business as never before.
"Who would have thought Mercedes and BMW would build cars in America?" said Trotman.
Ford already has manufacturing, assembly or sales operations in 34 countries and sells vehicles in more than 200 countries, according to Trotman. However, with the Asia-Pacific automotive markets expected to grow from 12 million to 19 million vehicles a year over the next 10 years, Ford recently announced plans for operations in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
"If you're going to be a world-class competitor, you're going to have to have a significant presence in these markets," he said.
To compete in the global market, he said, Ford's plans call for 50 percent more new vehicles over the next five years. Already, Ford has replaced the Taurus, the best-selling car in America, with a dramatically different model, "which tells you just how competitive the marketplace has become."
For those companies prepared to adapt and make necessary changes to compete, Trotman said, there will be great rewards and opportunities to make products, the workplace and the world better.
Corporate leaders attending the event included John McNeice Jr., chairman of the Colonial Group, Hill Holliday Connors chairman John M. Connors Jr. and Flatley Co. President Thomas Flatley, all Boston College trustee associates; Richard Egan, chairman of EMC Corp.; John Harrington, CEO of the Boston Red Sox; Michael Hawley, president of The Gillette Co.; and Boston Globe Publisher William Taylor.
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