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    這位傳奇經理人謝世,曾拯救克萊斯勒

    在汽車行業,很少有人擁有他的財富和聲譽。

    李·艾柯卡,曾經是福特公司的主管和銷售大師,在加州貝萊爾過世,享年94歲。在20世紀60年代,他將野馬系列車型加入到福特的生產線,20年后他又因拯救了克萊斯勒公司而成為英雄。

    曾經與他一起工作過的兩位克萊斯勒前主管——公司前任發言人巴德·利伯樂和前產品開發主管鮑勃·魯茲說,是艾柯卡家族的一位親密關系人告訴了他們艾柯卡過世的消息。

    艾柯卡在汽車業工作了32年,先在福特,后在克萊斯勒,他曾經參與推出了一些底特律最熱賣也最為標志性的車型,包括多功能休旅車、克萊斯勒K型車和福特護衛者等。他曾經直言,認為日本車商的貿易做法是不公平的。

    艾柯卡是意大利移民的后代,他曾經達到的財富和名譽的高度,在汽車行業只有寥寥數人能夠與之比肩。20世紀80年代,當他處于名譽的最高峰時,他做的電視廣告和那句口號可謂膾炙人口:“要是你能找到一輛更好的車,就買下它!”他寫過兩本暢銷書,并曾被推舉為總統候選人。

    但他最為人所記住的,應該是他開門見山的風格和抽著雪茄的形象。作為克萊斯勒的掌舵人,他引領了公司的大轉型。

    曾經在艾柯卡手下工作了10年的利伯樂說,艾柯卡確實風格獨特引人注目。“他一進房間,氣場就覆蓋全場。”利伯樂說,“他很能說,他就是一個領袖。”

    近幾年里,艾柯卡一直在與帕金森綜合癥斗爭,但利伯樂并不確定是什么導致了他的過世。

    利伯樂記得,艾柯卡會因為一些他不喜歡的事情而責罵員工,但幾分鐘后他就像什么也沒有發生過一樣。

    “他曾經痛罵我,有時候是在公開場合。”利伯樂回憶道。當人們問如何能夠忍受這些時,利伯樂回答說:“艾柯卡會翻過這一頁的。”

    1979年,克萊斯勒身陷50億美元的巨額債務,公司的生產系統臃腫,造出的“油老虎”車型并不適合市場需求。

    銀行拒絕貸款,艾柯卡和聯合汽車工人工會一道,說服美國政府批準了一項15億美元的貸款,讓這家美國排第三的車廠得以維持下去。

    利伯樂說,艾柯卡代表了一個時代,是最后一批強硬的、富有個人魅力并能產生實效的汽車業主管之一。“李有能力賺錢,他到了華盛頓許下了各種瘋狂的承諾,并實現了這些承諾。”利伯樂說。

    艾柯卡費了很大勁,讓工會在員工工資上妥協,他關閉或者合并了20家工廠,解雇了數千名員工,并引進了新的車型。在電視廣告中,他承認克萊斯勒犯了錯,但同時他堅稱公司已經做出了改變。

    這一策略奏效了。沉穩的道奇Aries和普利茅斯Reliant基本款,價格實惠、省油還能容納6人座。在1981年,這兩款車占據了緊湊車型20%的市場份額。在1983年,克萊斯勒連本帶息地償還了政府貸款,比協定早了7年。

    之后的1984年,艾柯卡引入了多功能休旅車,并創造了一個新的市場。

    克萊斯勒的成功轉型和艾柯卡的強勢作風,讓他成為了媒體的寵兒。他的兩本書,《艾柯卡:一本自傳》出版于1984年,他的《快言快語》出版于1988年。他甚至出現在了電影《邁阿密風云》中。

    1987年1月的一項蓋洛普民調顯示,作為1988年美國總統選舉的民主黨候選人,艾柯卡獲得了14%的支持率,僅次于科羅拉多州參議員加里·哈特。但他一直拒絕作“選艾柯卡當總統”的演講。

    同一時期,他主導成立了自由女神——愛麗絲島基金會,主持了自由女神像的翻新工作,1986年翻新工作完成,1990年愛麗絲島周邊重新開放,成為了一個移民博物館。

    但在1992年他退休前的幾年里,克萊斯勒的收入和艾柯卡的名望有所下降。追隨著市場領導者福特和通用汽車的腳步,艾柯卡在公司搞多元化,進入了國防和航空領域,但多元化失敗,未能幫助公司的主業。

    另一些重大決策也可以算入艾柯卡的功績,比如1987年克萊斯勒收購美國汽車公司。這筆15億美元的交易在當時備受批評,但美國汽車公司的吉普品牌,時至今日依然是菲亞特·克萊斯勒公司的一個金礦,因為市場對于運動型多功能車的需求大漲。

    1924年艾柯卡出生于賓西法尼亞州的艾倫鎮,父母給他取名利多·安東尼·艾柯卡。他的父親尼古拉,曾經在房產和其他生意中賺了不少錢,但在大蕭條中幾乎傾家蕩產。

    在普林斯頓大學獲得機械工程的碩士學位后,艾柯卡于1946年開始在福特做實習工程師。但性格外向的他,很快對工程師職位感到厭倦,出乎尋常地轉向做銷售。

    他自己曾經說道,他的職業生涯的轉折點在1956年,當時他是費城區的銷售經理助理,這一區域在福特全美的銷售中排名墊底。艾柯卡設計了一個金融方案,叫做“56元買56款”,客戶可以付20%定金購買一款1956年產的福特車,并在三年內每月支付56美元的按揭車款。于是這一區域的銷售迅速提升到了第一名,艾柯卡也被迅速提拔到公司位于密西根州迪爾伯恩的總部,負責全美的市場營銷。

    1960年艾柯卡36歲時,他就擔任了福特的副總裁和汽車部門的總經理。

    “我們年輕氣盛,目中無人。”他在自傳中寫道,“我們自認為是藝術家,將要創造出前所未見的最佳藝術品。”

    艾柯卡開始聲名大噪,來自于野馬車型在1964年的亮相。他說服了他的上級,使其相信福特需要這樣一款價格合適、款式時髦的雙門汽車,來滿足日益增長的年輕人買車需求。

    他打破常規,在4月推出新款車型,而不是在通常的秋季。福特邀請了許多記者,參與了70輛野馬車從紐約到迪爾伯恩的汽車拉力賽,這帶了巨大的宣傳效應。在同一周里,這款新車登上了《時代》和《新聞周刊》的封面。

    1970年,艾柯卡被任命為福特總裁,他立即開始公司重組和削減成本,因為公司面臨著外國廠商的競爭,以及上漲的油價。然而,艾柯卡與福特主席亨利·福特二世的關系不睦,1978年福特解雇了艾柯卡。亨利·福特二世后來評價艾柯卡說,他是“一個極端聰明的產品開發者,一個超級銷售員”,同時他又“太自負,太以自我為中心,看不到大局”,這些話可見諸《底特律新聞》發表的一些采訪稿。

    艾柯卡還是笑到了最后,他在克萊斯勒備受尊榮,他成功引入的車型道奇Caravan和普利茅斯Voyager多功能休旅車,又進一步強化了他在20世紀80年代對克萊斯勒所作的轉型。

    2005年7月,艾柯卡又以克萊斯勒銷售大師的身份,上了一次電視,并拍了一個令人印象深刻的廣告,廣告中他與說唱歌手史努比·狗狗一起打高爾夫球。

    可后來克萊斯勒發展地并不順。2007年在《領袖們都去哪兒了?》一書中,艾柯卡批評了1998年克萊斯勒被賣給德國戴姆勒公司一事,受此鞭策,克萊斯勒削減了成本。

    經濟蕭條來臨,銷售狀況更加惡化,不久克萊斯勒尋求了第二次的政府救助。2009年4月,克萊斯勒提請了破產保護。

    “當看到我的老公司,對美國意味著很多的老公司,處境如此艱難,我很心痛。”艾柯卡說。

    后來克萊斯勒擺脫了破產保護,由意大利車商菲亞特掌控。2009年艾柯卡接受美聯社采訪時,勸誡克萊斯勒的主管們,要“關心我們的客戶,這是你們僅有的實實在在的東西”。

    艾柯卡在晚年,仍然活躍于應對糖尿病的籌款活動中。他的第一任妻子瑪麗,在他們婚后27年,也就是1983年死于糖尿病復發癥。他們育有兩個女兒,凱瑟琳和麗婭。

    后來艾柯卡再婚兩次,但均以離婚收場。(財富中文網)

    譯者:宣峰

    Lee Iacocca, the auto executive and master pitchman who put the Mustang in Ford’s lineup in the 1960s and became a corporate folk hero when he resurrected Chrysler 20 years later, has died in Bel Air, Calif. He was 94.

    Two former Chrysler executives who worked with him, Bud Liebler, the company’s former spokesman, and Bob Lutz, formerly its head of product development, said they were told of the death Tuesday by a close associate of Iacocca’s family.

    In his 32-year career at Ford and then Chrysler, Iacocca helped launch some of Detroit’s best-selling and most significant vehicles, including the minivan, the Chrysler K-cars and the Ford Escort. He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers.

    The son of Italian immigrants, Iacocca reached a level of celebrity matched by few auto moguls. During the peak of his popularity in the ’80s, he was famous for his TV ads and catchy tagline: “If you can find a better car, buy it!” He wrote two best-selling books and was courted as a presidential candidate.

    But he will be best remembered as the blunt-talking, cigar-chomping Chrysler chief who helped engineer a great corporate turnaround.

    Liebler, who worked for Iacocca for a decade, said he had a larger-than-life presence that commanded attention. “He sucked the air out of the room whenever he walked into it,” Liebler said. “He always had something to say. He was a leader.”

    In recent years Iacocca was battling Parkinson’s Disease, but Liebler was not sure what caused his death.

    He remembers that Iacocca could condemn employees if they did something he didn’t like, but a few minutes later it would be like nothing had happened.

    “He used to beat me up, sometimes in public,” Liebler remembered. When people asked how he could put up with that, Liebler would answer: “He’ll get over it.”

    In 1979, Chrysler was floundering in $5 billion of debt. It had a bloated manufacturing system that was turning out gas-guzzlers that the public didn’t want.

    When the banks turned him down, Iacocca and the United Auto Workers union helped persuade the government to approve $1.5 billion in loan guarantees that kept the No. 3 domestic automaker afloat.

    Liebler said Iacocca is the last of an era of brash, charismatic executives who could produce results. “Lee made money. He went to Washington and made all these crazy promises, then he delivered on them,” Liebler said.

    Iacocca wrung wage concessions from the union, closed or consolidated 20 plants, laid off thousands of workers and introduced new cars. In TV commercials, he admitted Chrysler’s mistakes but insisted the company had changed.

    The strategy worked. The bland, basic Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliant were affordable, fuel-efficient and had room for six. In 1981, they captured 20% of the market for compact cars. In 1983, Chrysler paid back its government loans, with interest, seven years early.

    The following year, Iacocca introduced the minivan and created a new market.

    The turnaround and Iacocca’s bravado made him a media star. His “Iacocca: An Autobiography,” released in 1984, and his “Talking Straight,” released in 1988, were best-sellers. He even appeared on “Miami Vice.”

    A January 1987 Gallup Poll of potential Democratic presidential candidates for 1988 showed Iacocca was preferred by 14%, second only to Colorado Sen. Gary Hart. He continually said no to “draft Iacocca” talk.

    Also during that time, he headed the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, presiding over the renovation of the statue, completed in 1986, and the reopening of nearby Ellis Island as a museum of immigration in 1990.

    But in the years before his retirement in 1992, Chrysler’s earnings and Iacocca’s reputation faltered. Following the lead of Ford and General Motors, he undertook a risky diversification into the defense and aviation industries, but it failed to help the bottom line.

    Still, he could take credit for such decisions as the 1987 purchase of American Motors Corp. Although the $1.5 billion acquisition was criticized at the time, AMC’s Jeep brand has become a gold mine for now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles as demand for SUVs surged.

    Iacocca was born Lido Anthony Iacocca in 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. His father, Nicola, became rich in real estate and other businesses, but the family lost nearly everything in the Depression.

    After earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Princeton University, Iacocca began his career as an engineering trainee with Ford in 1946. But the extrovert quickly became bored and took the unconventional step of switching to sales.

    He said a turning point in his career came in 1956, when he was assistant sales manager of the Philadelphia district office ranked last in Ford sales nationwide. Iacocca’s devised a financing plan called “56 for 56,” under which customers could buy a 1956 Ford for 20% down and payments of $56 a month for three years. The district’s sales shot to the top, and Iacocca was quickly promoted to a national marketing job at company headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.

    By 1960, at age 36, Iacocca was vice president and general manager of the Ford division.

    “We were young and cocky,” he recalled in his autobiography. “We saw ourselves as artists, about to produce the finest masterpieces the world had ever seen.”

    Iacocca’s first burst of fame came with the debut of the Mustang in 1964. He had convinced his superiors that Ford needed the affordable, stylish coupe to take advantage of the growing youth market.

    He broke from tradition by launching the car in April rather than the fall. Ford invited reporters to a 70-car Mustang rally from New York to Dearborn, which generated huge publicity. The car made the covers of Time and Newsweek the same week.

    In 1970, Iacocca was named Ford president and immediately undertook a restructuring to cut costs as the company struggled with foreign competition and rising gas prices. Iacocca’s relationship with Chairman Henry Ford II became strained, and in 1978, Ford fired Iacocca. Henry Ford II later described Iacocca as “an extremely intelligent product man, a super salesman” who was “too conceited, too self-centered to be able to see the broad picture,” according to interview transcripts published by The Detroit News.

    Iacocca got the last laugh. He was strongly courted by Chrysler, and he helped cement its turnaround in the 1980s by introducing the wildly successful Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager minivans.

    In July 2005, Iacocca returned to the airwaves as Chrysler’s pitchman, including a memorable ad in which he played golf with rapper Snoop Dogg.

    Chrysler wasn’t faring well. In his 2007 book “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?” Iacocca criticized Chrysler’s 1998 sale to the Germany’s Daimler AG, which gutted much of Chrysler to cut costs.

    As the recession began, sales worsened, and soon Chrysler was asking for a second government bailout. In April 2009, it filed for bankruptcy protection.

    “It pains me to see my old company, which has meant so much to America, on the ropes,” Iacocca said.

    Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy protection under the control of Italian automaker Fiat. In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, he urged Chrysler executives to “take care of our customers. That’s the only solid thing you have.”

    Iacocca was also active in later years in raising money to fight diabetes. His first wife, Mary, died of complications of the disease in 1983 after 27 years of marriage. The couple had two daughters, Kathryn and Lia.

    Iacocca remarried twice, but both marriages ended in divorce.

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