5 Minutes With…Larry Prein, managing director, Ford Middle East

Ford is counting on SUV sales to offset the UAE’s potential downturn, says the firm’s MD.

What will your company be focusing on this year?

Ford Middle East is focused on delivering vehicles that our customers want, providing the highest levels of customer satisfaction, and assisting our dealers as they continue expanding their business around the region.

Are you concerned that the current volatile global economic climate will affect your strategy?

I think everyone is concerned but we are focused on executing our plan – controlling the things we can control, and adapting if necessary. So far, customers in the Middle East are continuing to show their confidence in Ford products allowing us to grow and stay in positive territory.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

In terms of segments, we are seeing growth in most segments. SUVs remain a driver for our company’s growth in the region but we are also seeing healthy growth levels from the sedans – from full-size to compact cars as well as trucks.

What new products will your company launch this year?

Ford already has rolled out three new products. During the first quarter of the year, we successfully launched the 2012 Ford Focus through the first-ever inter-GCC drive called “Focus Rabaa”. Immediately after that, we held the “Built Ford Tough” event to introduce our Ford F-150 and Ranger trucks. Then, we gave a sneak preview of the power of our new Police Interceptor sedans and utility models. The new 2013 Ford Taurus full-size sedan has debuted, and towards the fourth quarter, more vehicles will be introduced to the region, such as the 2013 Mustang GT500 and the Ford Escape.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

We are always looking into expanding where it makes business sense for our dealerships. Our dealers are strongly committed to opening new locations to bring Ford products and services closer to customers. We are opening more facilities this year,especially in Saudi Arabia with exciting plans in several other countries in the near future.

What will be the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector in 2012?

The UAE revised its 2012 economic growth forecast to three per cent so that may mean an overall slowdown but so far all indications show auto sales will remain strong.

Will you be hiring this year?

With the opening of the Ford Middle East Parts Distribution Centre, Ford is fairly well staffed in the UAE. We will be looking to fill a couple positions as we expand our presence in Saudi Arabia.

What’s your leadership style?

Participative and informal. Hire great people, train them and keep them focused on what is important. Then let them do their jobs with a minimum of bureaucracy while being accountable for results.

What makes the perfect employee?

It starts with great people – things like attitude, team-work and delivering oncommitments. I am lucky; the team in Ford Middle East is the best I have been around.

Define success in five words…

Feeling good about your efforts

Three tips for becoming the boss…

Treat everyone like you would like to be treated; when good things happen, give the credit to your team; understand the business from your customers’ perspective as well as you do your own.

When I’m not at work I like to…

Spend time with my wife exploring the UAE and beyond