In July 2013, Willie Fulton reached an impressive milestone: He celebrated his 60th anniversary as an employee. The company? Ford! He’s also the highest active seniority among hourly and salaried people within the United States.
So how does 60 years at Ford translate historically? Well, Willie started in 1953 making just $1.58 an hour as a machine operator. He has worked on the Ford Thunderbird, Station Wagon, Tractor, Escort, Mustang, Focus and F-150. He saw assembly go from manpower to robotic. The first Ford he owned was a Fairlane. “I wish I still had it,” Willie said. “It would’ve been an antique!”
Dearborn Stamping Plant is where Willie has been employed since March 1982, and he speaks to all new employees during their orientation, because he believes in training employees to do the job right; he is big on promoting safety, improving quality and driving efficiency. Back to safety for a moment, because his advice is solid advice for just about every job: “Gloves, ear plugs, Kevlar sleeves and no gym shoes. The best way to pick up parts is to have a good grip. You must come to work on time and have good performance too.” As you can imagine, someone who has been around as long as Willie can be quite inspiring not only to a new employee, but a seasoned one as well.
Willie now works on the 242-243 line at Dearborn Stamping Plant that produces the rear crew doors for the F-150. He plays a key role on the team, as he’s responsible for inspecting the doors for defects before they are prepared for shipment to the Kansas City Assembly Plant. The F-150 also happens to be his favorite vehicle.
The secret to Willie’s good health? He says it’s his routine of keeping motivated and moving. And he has no plans to retire quite yet.
“I can’t believe it,” Willie said. “Ford Motor Company is the best company to work for because it’s a family company. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed for this long.”