Lee Iacocca

From Academic Kids

Lee Iacocca (born October 15, 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania) is an American industrialist. Among the most widely recognized businessmen in the world, Iacocca is the former chairman of Chrysler Corporation and was a passionate advocate of U.S. business exports during the 1980s.

Biography

Iacocca was born in Allentown to Nicola and Antoinette Iacocca, both Italian immigrants. His given name was Lido Anthony Iacocca.

Iacocca graduated from Lehigh University with a degree in industrial engineering. After graduating from Lehigh, he won the Wallace Memorial Fellowship and went to Princeton where he took his electives in politics and plastics. He then began a career at Ford Motor Company as an engineer. Unhappy with the job, he switched career paths at Ford, entering the company's sales force. He was very successful in sales and moved up through the ranks of Ford, moving ultimately to product development.

Iacocca was involved with the design of several successful Ford automobiles, most notably the Ford Mustang. He promoted other ideas which did not reach the marketplace as Ford products. Eventually, he became the president of the Ford Motor Company, but he clashed with Henry Ford II and ultimately, in 1978, was forced to leave the company.

After leaving Ford, Lee was aggressively courted by the Chrysler corporation, which was on the verge of going out of business. Iacocca joined Chrysler and began rebuilding the entire company from the ground up, laying off many workers, selling Chrysler's loss-making European division to Peugeot, and bringing in many former associates from Ford.

Realizing that the company would go out of business if it did not receive a significant amount of money to turn the company around, however, Iacocca approached the United States Congress in 1979 and asked for a loan guarantee. Conventional wisdom holds that Congress actually lent Chrysler the money. In fact, however, it just guaranteed the loan. Most thought this was an unprecedented move, but Iacocca pointed to the government bail-outs of the airline and railroad industry, arguing that more jobs were at stake in Chrysler's possible demise. In the end, though the decision was controversial, Iacocca received the loan guarantee from the government.

After receiving this reprieve, Chrysler released the K-car in 1980, the small platform automobile based on design proposals that Ford had rejected during Iacocca's tenure there. Coming right after the oil crisis of the 1970s, this small, inexpensive, front wheel drive car sold rapidly. In addition, Chrysler released the minivan, based on a proposal of a key subordinate (Hal Sperlich) hired away from Ford; to this day, Chrysler leads the automobile industry in minivan sales. Because of these two cars, and the reforms Iacocca implemented, the company turned around quickly and was actually able to repay the government-backed loans several years earlier than expected.

Iacocca also was responsible for Chrysler's acquisition of AMC in the late 1980s, which brought the profitable Jeep division under Chrysler's corporate umbrella.

In May 1982, Ronald Reagan appointed Iacocca to head the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, which was created to raise funds for the renovation and preservation of the Statue of Liberty. He continues to serve on the board of the foundation.

In 1984, Iacocca co-authored (with William Novak) his autobiography, titled Iacocca: An Autobiography. It was a hugely successful book, proving the best selling non-fiction hardback book of 1984 and 1985.

Iacocca appeared on an episode of Miami Vice, playing "Park Commissioner Lido" in episode 44 (titled Son and Lovers) on May 9, 1986.

Iacocca left Chrysler in 1992 and currently works with a company making electric bicycles.

Politically, Iacocca supported the successful Republican candidate George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election. In the 2004 presidential election, however, he endorsed Bush's unsuccessful opponent, Democrat John Kerry.[1] (http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/06/24/iacocca.kerry)

Following the death of Iacocca's wife from diabetes, he has become an active supporter of research to find a cure for the disease, and has been one of the main patrons of the innovative diabetes research of Denise Faustman at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 2004, Iacocca launched JoinLeeNow.org, a national grassroots campaign that will bring Faustman's research to human clinical trials in 2006. In mice, Faustman permanently reversed and cured Type 1 diabetes without toxic drugs or islet transplants. The grassroots campaign is modeled after Iacocca's enormously successful Statue of Liberty effort.

Trivia

In order to remember the correct spelling of his name, Chrysler Corporation employees devised the mnemonic; I Am Chairman Of Chrysler Corporation Always.

External link

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ja:リー・アイアコッカ he:לי איאקוקה

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