The Unsung Hero: A Ford Motor Company Story

by

01/26/2006

Michigan Ave. between S. Newburgh Rd. & S. Haggerty Rd., Wayne, MI 48184

Neighborhood: Letter From Abroad

The headline on the Detroit Free Press was bold. But it was just another clever way of stating the obvious. Ford Motor Company was going to announce “The Way Forward,” actually a way to cut back. Ron Novack sat at his kitchen table and skimmed the story about the plant closures and layoffs that would be announced today. He sipped his coffee out of his thermos and then flipped the paper over to read the comics before he left.

Mr. Novack planned out his day as he drove to work. He had two shipments of shocks coming in and a shipment of bumpers. As his Ford Mustang hummed on the road, he also wondered what his wife had packed him for lunch. Ron exited the freeway and made a left onto Michigan Ave. He pulled into the parking lot of the Wayne Assembly Plant for the 5,493rd time in his life. 18 of his 33 years with Ford Motor Company have been spent at this plant.

Ron walked the south side of the parking lot and into the employee entrance. He thought about all the times his son had come to surprise him and then Ron smiled because security never seemed to stop his son from entering the plant. His son wasn’t an employee, just a daring young man. Mr. Novack had done well for his kids and his wife. Three square meals a day, a nice roof over their heads, and never a want for anything or so he had hoped. The security officer said, “Good Morning Ron.” And he returned the salutation to the guard as he headed deeper into the plant.

At 5:03 am, Ron Novack sat down at his desk. He looked over all the shipping invoices that were due in today. He checked the computer log to make sure there were no discrepancies, and then he sat back and looked at the framed picture of his first grandchild, Stanley, sitting on top of his desk. Just then one of the Hi-Lo drivers that work under him popped his head in Ron’s office. He asked Mr. Novack if he had heard any news about anyone that might get the ax. Ron said no. The driver left and Ron got up from his chair, as it was time to walk the plant floor.

Ron is a second generation Ford employee. His wife’s father worked at Rouge Steele and was the one that got Ron his first job at the company. Sure, he could have done something else. But he was fresh out of the military, with medals still on his chest and his first child already on Earth. So he did the right thing and got a job that paid well, with a company that had incredible benefits. Through the years he has always kept in mind that people’s lives depend on him. The customers that drive Ford products, the employees that entrust him with making decisions that will them and their families safe from harm.

Now his job is even more crucial, because he is the only one who knows where everything in the plant is. Where’s the shocks? Ask Ron. Where’s the dashboards? Ron knows. Where’s that thing that goes to the . . . other thing?

Find Ron, he’ll tell you.

Mr. Novack stepped back into his office after taking care of a few mishaps that had to be straightened out. He sat down at his desk and pulled out his lunch. He also took out the little ten inch TV that his employees got him for Christmas a few years back. As he ate his ham on white, smothered with mustard, he watched the news conference by Mark Fields and Bill Ford. They said the same thing the paper had said this morning, except, Ron could tell that a lot of what they said had been more for investors and stockholders, than employees. He finished his sandwich, turning off the TV. He put the TV away. He went back to looking at invoices.

Ron’s phone rang; it was his son. They talked about the layoffs and his son mused that they couldn’t possibly fire his dad, because then they wouldn’t be able to find anything. Ron thanked him for the compliment and prepared to say goodbye. But he was afraid and wanted to tell someone, something about deepest his fears. So he told his son about the two men in the plant that were escorted out by security. They were informed of their firing right after the news conference. Security wouldn’t even let the men pack their own personal belongings. As Ron told his son these things, he felt a little better, a little less alone. They exchanged their good-byes.

The rest of the day Ron kept waiting for Security to walk into his office with a couple of boxes. But they never came. So he finished his work and his day and headed to his car. He thanked God a little on his way.

Author’s Note: Ford Motor Company manufacturing plants are like small cities inside their walls. There are 1000’s of men and women with stories of all sorts that go untold. This story of my father is a simple story; it is about a man that has worked for a company that has treated him wonderfully at times and poorly at others. It’s a story about a true American Hero. One that gets up everyday, goes to his job and does it the best he knows how. So, like the millions of stories that could be found in the walls of these plants, I think his is a story that deserves to be shared.

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