|Former Ford Exec Gilmour is Still High-Octane Leader|
December 6, 2010/Automotive News
By Edward Lapham
As principal owner of Gilmour Ford-Chrysler in St. Johnsbury, Vt., Allan Gilmour is a heckuva dealer. But he's a lot more than that.
Since Gilmour retired from Ford Motor Co. the first time -- 16 years ago -- he has been a successful investor, a director of various companies, a trustee of many community and professional organizations and a philanthropist.
And now he's a university president.
In August, the 76-year-old Gilmour became interim president of Wayne State University in Detroit, while the school conducts a search for a new, permanent president.
Wayne State is primarily a commuter school that appeals to working students. Being in Detroit during an auto-industry depression has added to the school's challenges.
Disclosure: I'm a Wayne State graduate and supporter.
A nonacademic usually is looked down upon by the faculty. But since Gilmour arrived, I have heard only compliments about his powers of observation, attention to detail, analytical skills and determination to make operations more efficient while boosting academic performance.
Or as an auto exec would say: Cut costs while improving product.
Last week I ran into Gilmour at a meet-and-greet. He drew several comparisons to the car business. The auto industry is capital-intensive and people-intensive, he told us, and so is education. You don't want the cheapest professors you can hire.
Gilmour said his nephew, who runs his Vermont dealership, tried to cut costs and learned an important lesson: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.
Gilmour can't possibly fix everything at Wayne State. But he'll forge a plan -- just as he did when Bill Ford brought him back to Dearborn in 2002.
After visiting with him, it's clear that Allan Gilmour is still a high-octane car guy at heart.