J. Edward Lundy

Inducted 2003

The year was 1946. The Ford Motor Company had not turned a profit in fifteen years and was losing money at the rate of one million dollars per day. Henry Ford II, not yet thirty years of age, was now firmly at the helm of Ford Motor Company . . . and he needed help. “I am green,” he said, “and searching for answers.” The answer came in the form of a telegram from 32-year old Charles B. “Tex” Thornton, an ambitious and charismatic colonel of the Army Air Force. The telegram read: “Dear Mr. Ford. I represent a group of associates who have served under me at the office of statistical control, Army Air Force. We would like to discuss with you personally a matter of management importance and request an early meeting.” It was an all or nothing proposal. Either the young Mr. Ford hire all ten members of the group, or he would get none. A day after the telegram was sent, the group was invited to Dearborn. In addition to Thornton, the group included Wilbur Andreson, Charles Bosworth, Robert McNamara, Arjay Miller, Ben Mills, George Moore, Jack Reith, James Wright . . . and J. Edward Lundy. This group of ten, soon to be known as “The Whiz Kids,” ultimately would provide Ford Motor Company with two presidents and six vice presidents. Not only did they save the Ford Motor Company, they became one of the most celebrated success stories in American business. Ed Lundy, a former member of the faculty of the economics department at Princeton, was well known for his intellect and academic demeanor. He quickly and methodically began to fix Ford Motor Company’s financial health. Lundy soon brought discipline and accountability to the Ford Motor Company. Lundy’s accomplishments in automotive finance are legendary. He defined finance as an important information source and management tool, a departure from the traditional orientation toward only accounting, treasury and auditing. He believed the finance function was at the heart of “management with facts.” Lundy also focused the finance function on forecasting, making information useful and actionable by senior management and was able to make recommendations to remedy a wide variety of issues. Even though Lundy is credited with re-writing the rules of finance in the auto industry, he is perhaps best known for his uncanny ability to identify and mentor executive talent. A biographer of Ford once remarked, “Fortunate indeed is the young executive who comes under the wing of J. Edward Lundy, who has a deserved reputation in the company for helping and encouraging his proteges.” A former Ford executive from the ‘60s once stated, “No one in America today can rival him in the development of personnel. Indeed, his proteges were so well trained that Ford often had trouble keeping them. As a result, the guiding hand of J. Edward Lundy can be seen at dozens of companies throughout industry, even today. Ed Lundy retired from Ford in 1979 as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and continued to serve on the company’s Board of Directors until 1985.

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