During my 33 year career with Ford Motor Company (1962-1995), I spent the last 14 years as Director-Marketing Services which was responsible for the administration of Ford's ethnic minority dealer program. Our goal was to increase significantly the number of ethnic minorities, specifically African-American, within the Ford and Lincoln-Mercury dealer networks. The beginning of a concerted effort to change the way Ford approached minority dealers began in earnest in 1984.
Over the years, Ford had the distinction of having the highest percentage of African-American dealerships (5-7%) of its total.
By way of background, although a graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism/Advertising from the University of Wisconsin (1957), I concluded that my creative writing skills were 'modest' at best. As a result, I obtained an MBA (1961) from the Wharton School of Finance.
When the opportunity to join Ford Motor Company presented itself, I jumped at it. "Madison Avenue" took a back seat to "The Motor City".
After retiring from Ford in 1995, I was challenged to write a book memorializing the history of African-American dealers; pioneers who helped change the course of history. In 2001, I wrote a book titled, "Homer B. Roberts – An Extraordinary Man".
Roberts was the first African-American to be franchised (Kansas City – 1923). I believe it provides historical perspective relative to African-Americans in the retail car business prior to World War II.
This is considered a work in progress and hopefully, it adds to the historical knowledge base relative to African-American business entrepreneurs and current of Rusty's passing on October 31, 2012.