Lee Iacocca is one of the most influential Italians to enter the United States business field. Lee was born, Lido A. Iacoocca, but changed his name to become successful in the business world as he thought Lee was easier to pronounce. Lee’s family immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old. Lee Iacocca has never been afraid of working hard and has lived his entire life practicing hard work and saving. Lee’s dedication to saving and not wasting anything can be attributed to the great depression. Lee had many lofty goals for himself, when he graduated from college, his goal was to make $10,000 and then work hard on turning that into a million.
Lee Iacocca has often felt that he has been discriminated against because he is Italian. To prove that all men are equal regardless of their ethnicity or religion, he hired the first Jewish man, Gerald Greenwald, to work for the Chrysler Corporation. Greenwald became the first Jewish man to enter the top ranks of the 2 major automakers. One of Lee’s best attributes was his ability to be a decisive manager.
In 1946 Iacocca graduated from Princeton and began work for Ford Motor Company. Iacocca started working for Ford Motor Company as an engineer. Being dissatisfied in this job, he quickly switched jobs to sales and later moved to product development. Lee Iacocca is probably known best for his program called “56 for 56”, making it possible for people to purchase a new 1956 Ford for 20% down and $56.00 a month for three years. This great idea by Iacocca sold an extra 75,000,000 cars for Ford. Upon this success, Lee Iacocca was promoted to be President of Ford Operations at 40 years old. One of Lee Iacocca accomplishments with Ford was the design of the Ford Mustang. Iacocca also contributed to the revival of the Mercury brand in the 1960’s, introducing the Mercury Cougar and Mercury Marquis. After clashing with Henry Ford II, he was fired in 1978.
The Chrysler Corporation quickly hired Iacocca. Chrysler was on the verge of bankruptcy and Iacocca was hired to rejuvenate the company. Iacocca began by laying off several employees and selling the loss making European division. He also brought in many former associates from Ford to work for Chrysler. Iacocca went to Congress in 1979 to ask for a loan guarantee for Chrysler. After obtaining this, they were able to release the K-Car line. These cars were small, front wheel drive and inexpensive and became one of the mist successful car lines by Chrysler. Two years later following the K-Car line, Chrysler released the minivan. Originally Iacocca pitched the idea of the minivan to Ford when he worked there, but it was rejected by Henry Ford II. Now, Chrysler is still the leader in minivan sales. Iacocca also acquired AMC, which included the profitable Jeep division.
Family and Diabetes Work
Iacocca’s first wife died from diabetes and since then he has become on of the most active supporters for curing diabetes. Currently, Iacocca is the chairman of “Nourish the Children”, formed by Nu Skin Enterprises. In July 2005, Iacocca joined Jason Alexander and Snoop Dogg to promote Chrysler’s “Employee Pricing Plus” program. Iacocca’s fees and a $1 donation from each car sold would be given to the Iacocca foundation for diabetes research.
A great accomplishment to Iacocca was his dedication to his family. He always made time for his family. He would always leave work early on Friday and spend Friday night, Saturday and Sunday with his family. Iacocca has been hailed as a great leader and often looked to for his hard-working personality and excellent communication skills.