The news Ford is dropping Mercury assuredly caused consternation among rubber companies that supply the brand. Worse than that, it really will tick off my mother.
Mom fits perfectly into the demographic of Mercury customers. That would be people from the Greatest Generation, on the other side of 65, who have purchased Mercurys for years.
Now, I must report that my mother is only 39 years old. When I was a kid she explained to me that no woman ever ages beyond that magic number. Since my mother told me that, it's got to be true, right? Even if she did grow up during the Great Depression.
Mom is a devout Ford person. My father worked for Ford, and she owns stock in the company that he accumulated many de-cades ago. I have no idea how much—it could be five shares, but it doesn't matter. It's Ford—and by extension, Mercury—or nothing.
During the Cash for Clunkers program I got a couple of messages from Mom on my phone that were priceless. She'd go on and on about how great Fords are, how I needed to buy one, how much she loved Mercurys. “Your Uncle Woody just bought an Explorer, and he loves it.”
Uncle Woody was a production worker at a Ford plant, retired at 48 (ah, what a great role model), and gets that treasured employee/pensioner discount. He buys Fords regularly.
The best part of Mom's message was when she told me to “get rid of that piece of (mild expletive) and get a Ford.” I believe she was referring to my awfully new Honda Fit, not the Explorer I've owned for 11 years. I'd used that expletive myself for the Explorer, although, to be fair, it serves me well enough now that I only use it to pull boats or haul junk.
I wasn't shopping for any vehicle at the time. Or now. Or anytime in the near future, I expect.
I'll have to caution Mom that the demise of the Mercury won't really hurt her vehicle choices, since it's merely a rebranded Ford.
Which brings me to the point of all this. If you're a rubber component maker that has supplied just the Mercury, you're out of luck. However, since Mercury was built on the same platform as Fords, I suspect that may not be the case very often. At least I hope not.
Serving auto OEMs is such a crap shoot. Not only do component makers have so much extra work and stress to deal with from such demanding customers, they also have to be lucky enough to be supplying a brand that has legs.
Then again, if your company is still operating as an automotive supplier after all that's gone down in recent years, consider yourself lucky. Definitely luckier than the numerous companies that expired or bailed out of the business.
You rolled the dice on automotive and won, at least for now. Good for you.
Noga is the editor of Rubber & Plastics News.