Former UPS Executive Boosts Pledge To Alma Mater By $15 Million

Former UPS Executive Boosts Pledge To Alma Mater By $15 Million

BALTIMORE — To help students avoid crippling college debt, former United Parcel Service executive and Morgan State University alumnus Calvin Tyler is increasing his $5 million commitment to his alma mater by $15 million to fund academic scholarships.

The expanded Calvin and Tina Tyler Endowment Scholarship Fund, created in 2002 to offer scholarships for Baltimore students, will now be used to attract students from around the country to a university eager to distinguish itself as a premier research institution, the university recently announced.

“A lot of young people in Baltimore and throughout the country are in need of help right now,” said Tyler. “Putting them further in debt through the reliance on government loans is just not the answer. Getting a college degree and graduating without debt is something that we think is very important.”

Tyler Hall, the recently constructed student services building on Morgan’s campus, stands as a legacy of Calvin and Tina Tyler’s “legacy of philanthropic giving.” (Courtesy of Morgan State University)

Student demographics suggest that nearly every Morgan student will, in the form of partial or full tuition scholarships, be impacted by the increased funds. Of the approximately 8,000 students currently attending the university, 90 percent receive some type of financial assistance.

“Forty-five percent qualify for Pell Grants, federal assistance to support students, at various level based on family support, and about 30 percent of that 45 percent are eligible for maximum benefits,” said Morgan State President David Wilson. “Thousands of students will be impacted for decades and decades to come.”

Wilson said he “literally dropped the phone” when the Tylers informed him that they wanted to raise their commitment to the university.

“When I was having the conversation with Calvin, and he said that he and Tina wanted to make a larger investment, I went quiet, because he doesn’t think in increments of a million dollars,” said Wilson. “We talked about the impact of COVID-19 in the community they come from and how it’s stressful under normal circumstances, and now students have to do three times more. He told me they wanted to do everything they can to ease the loan burden, so students could taste the magic of a Morgan State University education.”

“My wife and I have become keenly aware of the effect that the pandemic has had on a number of young people trying to get an education,” said Tyler. “We have the resources to help a lot of young people … through our endowed scholarship plan. It’s not so much that we’re supporting Morgan, it’s more that we are supporting Baltimore … Baltimore is our hometown, it’s where we’re from.”

Forced to drop out of Morgan in 1963 due to a lack of money to complete his own degree in business administration, Tyler became one of the first 10 black drivers for UPS in 1964. He closed out his career with the package delivery company as senior vice president of operations, retiring in 1998 and taking a seat on its board of directors. Tyler’s company stock options and board compensations make up the bulk of his benefactor’s wealth, according to Wilson.

“Calvin was a hard worker who has made his money work for him,” Wilson said. “He didn’t come up through diversity programs or human resources, though no slight on those organizations. At one point, he was literally the chief operating officer for a major corporation.”

Calvin Tyler began his career as one of 10 black UPS drivers before retiring as senior vice president for operation at UPS in 1988. Now a UPS director, his endowment fund has help more than 200 Morgan State University students through 46 full tuition and 176 partial scholarships. (Courtesy of Morgan State University)

Morgan’s emergence as a top research university

Morgan State University has a long history as one of four historically black colleges and universities in Maryland. Founded as Centenary Biblical Institute in 1867 to train young men in the ministry, it was renamed Morgan College in 1890 in honor of Rev. Lyttleton Morgan, its first trustee board chairman.

The school remained a private institution until 1939, when it was purchased by the state to provide more opportunities for black residents. In 1975, the school gained university status and expanded its offerings to include several doctoral programs.

Today, Morgan has 12 colleges, schools and institutes, with curricula that includes liberal arts, engineering, architecture and planning, social work, global journalism and communications. In 2007, by virtue of its growth among doctoral-granting institutions, Morgan was classified as “doctoral research institution” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Ten years later, the university was designated by the Maryland General Assembly as the state’s “preeminent public urban research university.”

Together with Bowie State University, Coppin State University and University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Morgan State University is an engine that drives both the state and national economies, according a United Negro College Fund report, “HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Maryland’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” released in 2017. Maryland HBCUs, said the report, generate $1 billion in total economic impact and account for more than 9,300 jobs and $9.5 billion in lifetime earnings among its graduates.

With the Tyler endowment, the largest private donation from an alumnus in university history, and a $40 million gift in 2020 from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, Morgan State is now reaping the benefits of a reputation that was decades in the making.

“These investments show what we’ve known all along,” Wilson said. “Morgan is a serious institution that is turning out the best talent in the country in a period of immense innovation. Philanthropists are buying into the notion that, if they want a significant return on their investment, Morgan is the first option to consider.”

“MacKenzie Scott was vetting us from afar, the Tylers were vetting us from up close because Dr. Wilson has been able to establish a great relationship with them,” said Donna Howard, Morgan State’s vice president for institutional advancement. “But both gifts show that we passed muster as they considered their giving. These two gifts show them to be deeply embedded in altruism and wanting their wealth to have a positive and transformational impact on our students, their families and our communities.”

(Edited by Carlin Becker and Matthew B. Hall)



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Pioneering Engineer Leverages Success To Boost Minority Contractors

Pioneering Engineer Leverages Success To Boost Minority Contractors

WASHINGTON, D.C. — It all started because she wanted to claim her seat at the table.

Deryl McKissack had worked hard in the construction business for years but was always told to put her head down, work harder and not ask any questions.

When her new boss wanted to demote her simply because she was a woman, McKissack said, “I quit.”

With a thousand dollars and a business plan drafted using a book purchased at Barnes & Noble, she launched McKissack & McKissack.

“I just think it was my passion that got me through, and my determination of, I’m just not going to let anybody define me,” she said. “No one can stop me from getting the work that I’m supposed to get. And whatever I get, I’m going to make sure that we do a great job.”

McKissack, president and CEO of McKissack & McKissack, is one of the nation’s foremost African American female engineers. She leads an architectural, engineering, program and construction management firm that today oversees more than $15 billion in projects nationwide.

Some of the nation’s most stunning and significant architectural projects of the 21st century were designed, managed or built by McKissack & McKissack.

McKissack & McKissack has overseen renovations at Washington, D.C., landmarks such as the Lincoln, Jefferson and Martin Luther King Jr. memorials — and they are just a small fraction of the company’s national footprint.

Under McKissack’s leadership, the company has worked in the energy, education, aviation, infrastructure, culture and commercial real estate sectors on noteworthy projects such as the O’Hare International Airport Modernization Program, the DC Waters Clean River Project and Nationals Park, the home stadium of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team.

The company is an outgrowth of the oldest minority-owned architecture/engineering firm in the United States. Its roots predate the Civil War, when a slave named Moses McKissack learned the building trade. It was his grandson, Moses III (Deryl McKissack’s great-great-grandfather), who launched the first McKissack & McKissack in Nashville, Tennessee.

Moses III, along with his brother Calvin, launched the first McKissack firm in Nashville, TN. He was the grandson of Moses McKissack, a slave who learned the trade of building from his owner and began a family legacy in the industry. (Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack)

Since launching the newer McKissack & McKissack 30 years ago, Deryl McKissack has grown her company to include more than 150 employees and offices in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.

But building the billion-dollar company in an industry dominated by white men wasn’t easy.

The Howard University alum recalls making a presentation at a university to a room full of men in one of her first attempts to gain business for the company in 1990.

When the presentation was done, the man in charge looked at McKissack and said, “Little lady, there is nothing that you can do for us.”

“I looked him in the eye, I grabbed his hand, and I was shaking it really hard, and I said, ‘Thank you so much for taking your time to listen to my presentation, and I look forward to working with you,’” McKissack said. “Then I went out on that campus for two hours and I just looked at every job I was going to be working on. I mean, I just walked through the campus and I started thanking God for the work that I was going to be doing on this campus. I believe in planting seeds.”

That seed sprang up about six months later.

The only African American man seated at the table on the fateful day of McKissack’s presentation was promoted to boss. Impressed with McKissack’s gracious response to the way she was treated, the new boss reached out to McKissack and offered her a small job worth $5,000. Within a year, McKissack had acquired $1 million worth of business with that university.

“I just never take no,” McKissack said. “I stare down the barrel of no so much, but I keep looking until I find my yes. I have won a lot of jobs at debriefings where they’re sitting there and telling me how I don’t add up, and then I get to tell them how I do.”

Even with her record of success, McKissack said she still encounters racism in the construction industry. She continues to experience “microaggressions,” which she explained as covert expressions from clients who, despite her expansive portfolio, continue to openly question her company’s ability to do the job.

“To be so successful [on previous projects] but yet get questioned over and over again on the next project — that’s what we’ve had to deal with,” McKissack said. “I’ve had to deal with it for 30 years now. … We’re achieving excellence, but at the same time you get slapped in the face every time you try to do something. There’s always resistance. There’s an undercurrent of, are you good enough? Or, can you do it? And extra questions. I’m still on calls that I’m in amazement on what I’m hearing.”

“I just hope that it gets better,” she said.

By the age of six, Deryl McKissack was drafting architectural drawings under her father’s tutelage. She later attended Howard University where she graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering. (Courtesy of McKissack & McKissack)

True to her character, McKissack is not one to just sit back and ignore these issues in the industry she loves; she’s addressing them head-on. She launched a 7-Step Plan to Confront Racism in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry.

Her plan calls for industry leaders to acknowledge that racism is a serious problem in the industry and commit to fixing it through actions such as hiring minority- and women-owned firms as prime contractors and procuring goods and services from minority- and women-owned suppliers.

Blacks are significantly underrepresented in architecture, engineering and construction.

African Americans make up 12.3 percent of the workforce but represent only 6.4 percent of construction workers and 6.1 percent of architecture and engineering professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By contrast, whites make up 78 percent of the total workforce but 84 percent of all architecture and engineering professionals.

McKissack said some companies have already adopted elements of her plan, but in 2021 she hopes to bring more of the industry’s major players on board.

“I’m going to be forming a group of companies that are huge companies that can really make a difference,” she said. “Because I know their CEOs really well, I’ve started small conversations with them, but we’re going to make it a little more formal in 2021.”

Keith Foxx has watched McKissack’s career over the past 20 years and believes her to be not only a visionary, but one of the industry’s foremost advocates for diversity.

As a program manager at RK&K, Foxx worked with McKissack on the D.C. Power Line Undergrounding program. When Foxx voiced his intention to start his own business, McKissack helped him secure his first government contract. Foxx is launching his engineering and construction management firm, FOXXSTEM, this month. He is grateful for McKissack’s support.

“Starting your own business, there are a lot of unknowns,” Foxx said. “She found a way to help me get my first contract. I will never forget that.”

Foxx said McKissack wields extraordinary influence in the industry.

“If she talks, everyone is listening, and she has the ears of some very important people,” Foxx said. “She’s legendary — a powerhouse and an icon — because she’s blazed a trail that I’m going to walk in.”

Beyond helping minority businesses get their foot in the door, McKissack helps them sustain success in the industry.

Christine Merdon, chief operating officer of McKissack & McKissack, said McKissack often speaks with pride about a minority contractor who was hired to work on the Washington D.C. Convention Center project managed by the firm.

“The contractor began the project with one truck, but by the time the project was over, he owned five trucks,” Merdon said. “When we bring minority- and women-owned firms on projects, it’s not only that they show up, but they are sustainable and have increased capacity.”

McKissack celebrated her company’s 30-year anniversary in 2020. That year the company received Inc. magazine’s 2020 Best in Business Award for its workforce diversity plan. Also in 2020, McKissack was elected to the National Academy of Construction. In bestowing the honor, the academy described her as “a visionary leader and entrepreneur with significant contributions in architecture, engineering, construction, and program management and a mentor to the next generation of industry leaders.”

She shows no signs of slowing down in 2021.

The coronavirus pandemic has been a boon for McKissack’s area of the construction industry; clients have taken advantage of reduced traffic to launch school and infrastructure projects. McKissack’s company won bids for more than 40 projects, and more are expected.

She said her company is emerging from the challenges of 2020 even stronger. By slowing down, and spending less time traveling and more time interacting with employees, McKissack was able to see her business in a new light.

“I know now what we do good and what we do great,” McKissack said. “I know the people in the company, and what their strengths are, and I like to build on people’s strengths.”

Merdon said McKissack’s visionary leadership, political savvy and compassion for her employees has enabled the company to lead “mega projects” while also creating opportunities for minorities in the industry.

“Her leadership inspires people and draws really good people to the firm,” Merdon said. “Everybody has to work through tough days, but if you have a leader that believes in you, you can get it done.”

(Edited by Jameson O’Neal and Alex Patrick)



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Starting at a Black Newspaper, Dana White Is the First Black Woman to Run Comms at a Major Automaker

Starting at a Black Newspaper, Dana White Is the First Black Woman to Run Comms at a Major Automaker

As Hyundai North America’s first chief communications officer, Dana W. White knows what it is like to have two feet in two worlds.

“Growing up I always knew about the power of communication, the power of words,” she said, talking about her childhood in Charlottesville, Virginia. “My grandfather, who was born in 1896, founded the oldest black newspaper in the state. I used to cut ad sheets every month and write copy and process black-and-white photos [at the paper]. The entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in me and my family.”

While the weekly black newspaper, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Tribune, is gone, the family’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on. “The environment I grew up in, my family, was that there was never just a pot of gold waiting for me at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “It’s in my DNA – to make it happen for yourself.”

Dr. Ben Chavis runs the trade group for African American newspaper publishers. “The National Newspapers Publishers Association salutes Hyundai for its decision to elevate an African-American woman leader to the position of Chief Communications Officer. In this year where the focus is on the empowerment of all women, Dana White represents and embodies the best of Black America,” he told Zenger News of White.

Dana White is no relation to the Ultimate Fighting Championship president with the same name.

Dana White poses for a photo outside Hyundai Motor America in Fountain Valley, Cali. on August 7, 2020. (Carol Larsen/Zenger)

 

 

She studied hard in college, taking the toughest courses on purpose even if they were scheduled early in the morning and required long walks across Chicago wind-chilled campus. Those courses included learning to read, write and speak Mandarin, the mostly widely used of the Chinese-language dialects. She majored in Chinese history at the University of Chicago.

White thought hard about her choices in what to study; she didn’t just take the most popular courses or the easiest ones to earn a top grade. Of course, she said there are “easy” courses at the University of Chicago, which competes with the Ivy League for students. “At the time, nobody was thinking about China,” she said. “Everyone was terrified that Japan was taking over the world, but no one was thinking about this country of one billion people that was just sitting there, very quiet. I wanted to make sure I’d be employable for the next 50 years, find something that was valuable for the future. So, I decided to study Mandarin.”

She applied for scholarships to study in China’s capital, Beijing, and later in South Korea’s capital, Seoul. This on-the-ground experience would later prove pivotal in her career.

“I think it’s fascinating, working as a Black American within different cultures. In fact, sometimes I think it’s an advantage as I experience my home culture differently and therefore I think I’m much more observant and intrigued by people, their language and traditions. It’s helpful in translating best practices and communications,” she said. “Communication isn’t just about the literal words themselves, it’s about the feeling, impressions and the image you convey or defy.”

After college, she moved to Washington, DC without a job and worked as an intern and a temp to pay the bills while she applied for jobs on Capitol Hill.

The Republican committee for all GOP lawmakers, then chaired by Rep. J.C. Watts, the only Black Republican serving in Congress, was the first to call her back. She went on to take a series of jobs in government and in media, often working as the only black woman in the room. She accepted a job as deputy press secretary for the House Republican Conference, where she worked for two years until 2000.

 

Dana White briefs the press at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. in an undated photograph. (Sgt. Amber Smith/DOD)

 

Dana W. White, Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), poses for her official portrait in the Army portrait studio at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., Dec 21, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King)

Then, she joined the public-relations team at Fox News between 2000 and 2001. Later, she went on to the Heritage Foundation, a think tank on Capitol Hill that is influential among Republicans. “I was director of the Heritage Foundation’s roundtable for Asia-Pacific journalists which was comprised of foreign correspondents from outlets such as The Nikkei and Asahi Shimbun and Chosun Ilbo.” she recalled. “I was overseeing some 400 different journalists from across Asia.” Her study in Chinese language and Asian culture had made her stand out. Her careful preparation was paying off in unexpected ways. “At Heritage, I met some wonderful reporters from Taiwan, Japan and Korea. It was so beneficial when I did my first stint at the Pentagon on the China Desk, then at Nissan and now Hyundai.”

Her studies and experience soon took her back to the federal government. President George W. Bush named her Taiwan Country Director at the Defense Department.

She returned to the private sector as an editor in the arts and culture section of The Wall Street Journal, the nation’s most widely read newspaper and based in Hong Kong.

Next, she was tapped as director of policy and strategic communications for the Renault–Nissan Alliance, a joint venture of the French and Japanese auto makers. They needed someone who understood both media and Asia – and she was one of the few that fit the bill. She soon became fluent in French and worked from Renault’s Paris headquarters. Still, she never forgot her roots, often phoning her mother, who was born during racial segregation, and then living in northern Virginia’s ever spreading suburbs.

She returned from Paris in 2015 and started her own public relations firm 1055 Grady, named in honor of her grandfather’s address in Charlottesville, where she was first inspired to be an entrepreneur. Back in Washington, DC, she was tapped by the Trump campaign to help with their strategic communications. Shortly after Donald J. Trump was sworn in, she was asked about taking a high profile spot back at the Pentagon. Her earlier stint at the Defense Department along with her knowledge and contacts in U.S. and foreign media perfectly positioned her to take the top spot as head of public affairs for the Defense Department. She was sworn in as Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs and Chief Pentagon Spokesperson on April 7, 2017.

It was also the same day the U.S. sent cruise missiles to strike Syria in response to its chemical-weapons attacks. Nearly one year to the day, she would go before the world to brief the U.S. strikes on Syria in response to a another chemical attack. She became the first black person to hold that prestigious post.

She reported directly to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. When he resigned in 2018, she followed the same day. “I left DoD alongside Mattis because I believe in his integrity,” she said.

Mattis differed with President Trump on matters ranging from pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan to withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Now Dana White runs North American communications for Hyundai Motor Company, a South Korean car maker that builds more than half of its vehicles at its plant in Alabama and employs some 25,000 people in the United States. She joined the Zenger News Advisory Board in 2019.

White sees herself as a cross-cultural bridge.  At Hyundai Motor North America, she is the Chief Communications Officer—a first for Korean automaker in the U.S. She oversees communications for Hyundai Motor North America headquarters and all of Hyundai’s North America Affiliates including Canada and Mexico, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Glovis (Hyundai’s Logistics Operations), Mobis (Hyundai Parts Operations), Hyundai Capital and the Washington, DC Office. White also has strategic oversight of Hyundai’s luxury automotive brand Genesis, which will debut the GV80—the first SUV of the luxury brand.

Dana White poses for a photo inside Hyundai Motor America in Fountain Valley, California on August 7, 2020. (Carol Larsen/Zenger)

 

Dana White poses for a photo outside Hyundai Motor America in Fountain Valley, California on August 7, 2020. (Carol Larsen/Zenger)

“When I joined Hyundai a year ago, I knew I needed someone who understood decision making at the highest levels, storytelling and how to work across cultures seamlessly to deliver results. So, I called Dana,” said Jose Munoz, Global COO of Hyundai Motor Company and Pres. & CEO of Hyundai Motor North America. “It’s rare to find one person with all the skills, talents and experiences that she has. And she has proven track record of success. In few short months, Dana has already made a big difference in how we operate, communicate and tell the Hyundai story.”

Ultimately for White, she said her passions are education, excellence and empowerment. “I can still hear my grandfather’s gruff voice saying, ‘Mouse, I want you to be a smart little girl. Learn everything you can.’ I think about everything he survived, all the limits placed on his life and how if he could see me now—a man who proud to put pictures of my nursery school graduation in the paper—I know he’d say…’So, Mouse…what’s next?’”

Her father, Sherman R. White, graduated from Charlottesville’s segregated schools was also plaintiff in the desegregation of Charlottesville schools.  He attended Howard University at 16 years-old and later pledged the Alpha Phi Alpha.  There, he met her and married her mother Agnes Cross from Philadelphia, PA.  Her father was an AME minister and her mother one the first blacks to secure a civil service job in the state of Pennsylvania.

Her cousin Cheryl was the President of the local Williamsburg chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. In high school, Dana was awarded a merit scholarship from the University of Virginia Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. And her older brother is a graduate of Hampton University

“The thing about me is that I’m propelled by history and obsessed with the future. I’m passionate about ideas and a mission. I want to see people move forward—know their past and explore their future,” she said. “It’s in my family—this spirit of perseverance. I feel like they handed me a baton. They all ran hard and ran fast and carried the baton as far as they could go. Now, it’s my responsibility to take that baton and run farther and faster and pass the baton to the next generation. I say, ‘When you stand on the shoulders of slaves, don’t slouch!’”

(Edited by Robert George and Richard Miniter.)



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Ford to install racing enthusiast as new CEO

Ford to install racing enthusiast as new CEO

Jim Farley spends his free time behind the wheel of a 1965 Ford GT40, the car that snatched three consecutive victories at Le Mans from team Ferrari in the early 1960s.

And after years of declining sales and slumping stock prices, Ford is handing him the keys to the company as its new CEO.

James Farley (Ford Motors handout)

“As deep as his passion is for cars and racing, his passion for our company is even deeper,” company chairman Bill Ford said on a recent conference call. Farley is currently  Ford’s chief operating officer and will replace current CEO Jim Hackett on October 1.

The end of Hackett’s three-year tenure was not a shock to the industry. “It came as no surprise,” said Michelle Krebs, an executive analyst at Autotrader. “Hackett said he wasn’t going to be at Ford a long time, and it became clear in the last several months that Farley was going to be his successor. The only surprise was the day it came.”

Hackett, 65, came to Ford after serving as an executive at Steelcase, an office furniture company, and as the athletic director at the University of Michigan. Farley, by contrast, is the quintessential automotive industry veteran—his grandfather, Emmet E. Tracy, worked on the Model T assembly line as one of Henry Ford’s first employees.

“Ford Motors gave my family an opportunity, and we have found a better place as a family thanks to Ford,” Farley said in a conference call on Tuesday.

Farley, 58, joined Ford in 2007 after 17 years at Toyota, where he was instrumental in launching the innovative but now-defunct Scion brand that targeted Generation Y with a no-haggle sales strategy, quirky automotive design and guerilla-style marketing campaigns. Farley also helped lead Lexus into taking away market share from the German luxury stalwarts.

He is credited with helping CEO Alan Mullaly navigate the 2007-2008 financial crisis as global head of marketing and sales. While helming Ford of Europe, he achieved record profitability and margins while boosting sales.

Ford had hoped Hackett would inject new life into the company after Ford’s share price slid 35 percent during Mark Fields’ three-year reign at the top. Under Hackett’s guidance, Ford began several crucial processes to prepare the company for the 2020s.

Alan Mulally, Retired President and Chief Executive Officer (Ford Motors handout)

Unprofitable sedans and hatchbacks models were eliminated to focus on SUVs and trucks. Ford then partnered with Volkswagen to develop autonomous vehicles and moved into electric vehicles including an investment into startup Rivian, which is building EV pickups and SUVs. The electric Mustang Mach E SUV is already making headlines along with an upcoming electric F-150 pickup, and the revived Bronco off-roader.

Despite generating buzz, there was a sense among investors that Hackett lacked a coherent vision. Ford’s share price has fallen a further 38 percent in his three years, although Krebs pointed out that most traditional auto companies have not fared well in terms of stock prices lately.

“Jim Hackett wasn’t always the best at communicating his plans to Wall Street,” said Jessica Caldwell, an industry analyst for Edmunds.com. “Stock prices are based so much on the future and what the company is going to do. [The investors] never really had that confidence.”

Ford’s stock price struggled, as profits declined in 2018 and 2019, with sales dropping by 3 percent each year. Ford’s market share dipped from 14.29 percent in 2017 to 13.42 percent in 2019.

Despite those numbers, Farley remains positive. “I’m inspired by the momentum we are building,” Farley said in the conference call. “To fulfill our mission, we need to swing for the fences.”

Caldwell agrees that Ford is well-positioned thanks to the groundwork Hackett laid, and that Farley may be the right choice to reverse the company’s fortunes. “Farley has a lot more auto experience and he’s a marketing guy,” she said. “He knows about car launches and how big of a splash you have to make.”

“Vehicles like the Bronco and the Mustang Mach E need strong storytelling to trade on the value of the brands, and that’s something that Farley understands,” said Krebs. “He’s grounded in products. He believes vehicles need to be something more than a commodity.”

 

Farley also aims to use data and fresh technology to transition Ford into a future of electric and autonomous vehicles, building on what he implemented as Ford’s president of New Businesses, Technology and Strategy. “He is the single executive who understands the integration of technology and autos,” said Bill Ford.

In the same call, Farley announced his intent “to grow and expand where we are already strong,” especially in “maximizing our commercial vehicle business” where Ford excels with the Transit and Transit Connect.

Ultimately, Krebs said, that while Farley “checks a lot of the boxes,” the challenges he faces, especially during a pandemic, are enormous. “They’ve had some disasters, like the Explorer launch,” said Caldwell. “Now they’ll have to execute these new products flawlessly.”

(Edited by Scott Sowers and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



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U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest level since COVID shutdown

U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest level since COVID shutdown

WASHINGTON — Initial jobless claims fell in the U.S. at the end of last month to their lowest level since before the COVID-19 pandemic tanked the economy.

First-time unemployment filings fell by a seasonally adjusted 249,000 to 1.2 million for the week ending Aug. 1, the U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday. It was the lowest weekly total since March, signaling a recovering economy even though numbers remain at historically high levels.

The U.S. added 1.8 million jobs in July, pushing the unemployment rate down to 10.2 percent from 11.1 percent in June, the Labor department said Friday. The Trump economy added 4.8 million jobs in June.

“June’s pace was great and would have brought us back to February unemployment levels in just a couple of months, but July’s pace is considerably slower,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter.

“We need to add about 2.5 million jobs a month to recover all the jobs lost due to COVID by the end of year. It doesn’t seem like that is even remotely possible given that Covid cases are still high,” she said.

Pollack attributed the decrease in jobless claims to the expiration of the extra $600 weekly federal unemployment payments, but she said the addition of jobs in July was “better than expected.”

ZipRecruiter is seeing a weekly increase in job postings, she said.

“Jobs for e-commerce specialists, online merchants, web designers,” Pollak said. “Of course there is very robust hiring for warehouse workers and delivery drivers.”

The largest gains are coming from hard-hit industries—retail and leisure and hospitality—rehiring workers, according to Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor.

The latest numbers are encouraging, said Lydia Boussour, a senior economist at Oxford Economics, but also show that momentum is slowing.

“Our baseline remains that labor market conditions continue to gradually improve albeit at a slower pace,” Boussour said. “While jobs will continue to be recouped as the economy recovers, we still expect the employment shortfall to persist well into 2022 as the scarring effects of the coronavirus recession on the labor market leads to a shallower recovery.”

(Edited by Allison Elyse Gualtieri and David Martosko)



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