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Eddie’s golden years with Ford

Then and now: Ford Australia’s longest-serving employee, Eddie Liss, has been working on Blue Oval cars since the XL Falcon was a pup.

Ford engineer Eddie Liss clocks up 50 years with the Aussie Blue Oval

8 Oct 2014

A FORD engineer whose career has spanned almost the entire history of the Australian-made Falcon has celebrated 50 years with Ford Australia, making him the longest-serving Blue Oval current local employee.

Eddie Liss, 69, joined the company’s Broadmeadows plant in September 1964, just four years after the original XK Falcon went into production.

He has served for decades in what has become known as Ford Australia’s Vehicle Operations Manufacturing Engineering department, in the team that prepares future models for mass production.

In his time, more than 20 Falcon models and numerous other Ford cars, including the Fairlane, LTD, Territory, Capri, Cortina, Laser and Telstar, have been transitioned from engineering prototypes to production vehicles by Eddie and his colleagues.

In a Ford video interview to celebrate his milestone, Mr Liss said he joined Ford just as the XP Falcon – a 1965 facelift of the first-generation Falcon – was coming to market.

He said he had been an apprentice fitter and turner with an engineering company in Reservoir, in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, when he decided he needed a change.

He said Ford Australia took over his apprenticeship and placed him in its body manufacturing operations, where he learned how to build underbodies, engine boxes and side assemblies.

“In those days, it was all manual operations – there were people everywhere,” he said. “Of course, since then, the robots have taken over that role.”

After a stint in the paint shop, he was moved into advanced assembly engineering, working on future models – a job he continues to this day.

Mr Liss said the changing nature of his job and the great people he worked with kept him at Ford.

“Because there is so much changing and so much to learn, it just kept me going,” he said. “I enjoyed working for people. With all those attributes, I never thought of looking outside for anything else.”

Mr Liss said that when he started, engineering was done with pen and paper, but he had to embrace the computer age.

He said the biggest difference in his 50 years with Ford had been the improvement in the quality of its cars.

“Our process and people are much smarter when it comes to building a vehicle,” he said.

Mr Liss said his favourite car was one that was being built by Ford Australia when he started working there, the Mark I GT Cortina.

“That was a great little car – it won Bathurst,” he said. “I always dreamed of owning one of those.

“And the other car that springs to mind is the XW 351 GT Falcon muscle car.

Even today, it is a legendary vehicle.”

While working for Ford, Mr Liss was temporarily assigned to Mazda in Japan for a stint that opened his eyes to new methods of producing cars – an experience he describes as “a nice little change in culture in how to build motor vehicles”.

While in Hiroshima, he learned about the value of team effort and commitment.

“They would not give up until they found the answers,” he said.

Mr Liss said that while he was saddened the see the end of car manufacturing in Australia, he felt privileged to have been part of the journey.

He praised Ford as an employer, saying it looked after its workers.

“Ford has been very good to me, it has given me a great life,” he said.

Asked about his plans for retirement, Mr Liss said he would wait and see what happened when Ford ceased manufacturing.

And asked what advice he would give to new employees, he said they should “go in slow, learn what you can, and keep learning”.

Mr Liss continues to work at the Broadmeadows facility, where Ford is preparing the launch the last of its Falcon models, the facelifted FG X and related Territory SUV, in late November.

These models will be the last to be built by Ford in Australia, which is preparing to shutter his factories in 2016.

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