As the industry has grown and evolved over the past decade or so, so has the role of women. Not only have women started working in the industry on a much larger scale, women have become trailblazers—opening doors not previously recognizable or visited. This has helped to grow the industry in ways not previously possible, securing a more promising future for the ground transportation industry.
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures and distributes automobiles in 200 markets across six continents. One of the people leading the Ford Motor Company in the livery market is Kim Johnston, Fleet Marketing Manager of Limo/Livery/SUVs.
With over 16 years in the limousine industry, Kim is a veteran who has seen trends come and go. Limo Digest sat down with Kim Johnston to discuss her job, what’s she seen and what she sees in the future for the limo industry.
What industry background do you have? What strengths did you bring to the Ford Company?
As far as my strengths, I bring over 20 plus years of experience to the table and have been touted as being a highly motivated, results-driven individual that exudes a team spirit and always has the customer in mind. I look forward to learning new ways to innovate within the industry and continue to progress in my career.
How has the industry changed in 10 years and how have you adapted?
The ways of doing business have changed dramatically over the past decade. Products
have evolved and technology has taken off by storm (Sync3, Navigation, BLIS, Lane Keeping Aid, and Personal Safety System. One thing that has always remained is teamwork. Our team is driven to surpassing excellent customer experiences, and being a part of the development of new products has been exhilarating and motivating nonetheless. Knowledge is king and driving change has helped me to adapt today.
How is it different, based on your experience, to be a woman in this industry as compared to a man and what are the challenges you face in a male-dominated industry like this?
I have been fortunate to be a part of an amazing team and have many mentors throughout my entire career. I have been in the automotive business most if not all of my career and quite honestly, gender has never been an obstacle for me. Focusing efforts on results is the bottom line.
In business, you set the tone by being a competent professional, so you establish yourself as someone qualified to get the job done and let that speak for itself.
With the popularity of the Lincoln MKT Town Car, has there been any growing pains in providing the industry one of its most popular vehicles?
The MKT Town Car, the successor to the ever popular Executive Town Car, initially had some opposition to the CUV versus traditional sedan styling. However, this purpose-built vehicle has been the “star” ever since. From the spacious interior and cargo capacity to the interior amenities that cater to the back-seat customer, this vehicle has really been the Flagship for the Limo Livery industry. I was involved from market research to inception, and I cannot tell you how many people contact me to tell me about their experiences, and how they had made the best purchase choice with the MKT Town Car.
Can you provide any insight on industry trends?
The industry is all about technology and making business travel more convenient. Anything from USB ports to a traveling office on wheels. Technology is evolving every day, and I’m happy to stand behind products that provide this level of innovation to the industry. We are excited to launch some fantastic new products that I believe will change the industry and I’m proud to be wearing the Ford Oval and Lincoln Star.
What “lessons learned” have you realized since you have been with the company?
Be a good listener, never stop learning, be prepared and adapt to change, live outside your comfort zone! Always go the extra mile for your customers. I have cultivated some great relationships through the years, and look forward to many years to come.
How do you feel the new Continental will affect the Livery industry? Can you provide any comments on the launching of the 2017 Lincoln Continental?
The entire team, as well as the industry, is very excited to see the 2017 Continental come to fruition. It is a gorgeous vehicle with a ton of heart and soul put into its creation. “The 2017 Continental is designed to appeal to culturally progressive clients who define luxury on their own terms – craving superior quality, craftsmanship, and safety.” The vehicle, designed with the rear-seat passenger in mind, is just what the industry has been waiting for. Besides the luxurious amenities and legroom, the Livery Equipment Package has rear – seat features such as a passenger seat chauffeur front/back adjust control switch, power rear seat recliner, 110V outlet, heated and cooled seats, two smart charging USB ports, rear door and rear window sunshades, plus a rear seat armrest with storage and controls for climate and audio. There is also a standard hands-free, foot activated trunk lid to aid chauffeurs getting the passenger’s luggage in/out of the vehicle. The 2017 Continental received rave reviews at the LCT show in March and we look forward to seeing it on the road this fall.
Our insatiable drive, our “one team” spirit, and the ability to get things done efficiently.
Any words of wisdom/advice for other women in the business?
Whatever you do, be so good they can’t ignore you!
What keeps motivates you as the QVM Marketing Manager?
Every time I pick up the phone, it’s something different and I wear many hats throughout the day. Thinking outside the box and the ability to adapt and innovate in a fast-paced world keeps me motivated and look forward to what the future has to offer.
Any final insights to share?
Dream big, believe in yourself, and stay healthy and fit throughout the journey. Success in business is passion combined with fearless execution!
“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm”. – Henry Ford //LD