Aviation Media Logo

OTHER ARTICLES Last modified on April 20, 2014

The last word - Joseph Folz

Porsche Cars North America’s Joseph Folz talks about brands, his favourite gateways and the company’s links with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Factfile
Name: Joseph Folz

Age: 60

Job title: General counsel and secretary, Porsche Cars North America

Nationality: American

Time in aviation industry: Technically none, but 35 years in the automobile industry, and supervised a terrific corporate flight department for ten of those.

Best known for: Being a business lawyer who tries to say ‘yes’.

Little known fact: I’m distantly related on my mother’s side to Abraham Lincoln.

 

How important is a good brand?

Well, nothing is more important than great product, and Porsche builds some of the most remarkable cars in the history of the automobile. But there are many excellent cars – the promise of the brand makes the difference. Nobody needs a Porsche, but everybody wants a Porsche.

Is there any link between a good brand and customer loyalty?

No question. A brand is almost something you wear, and your choice of a car is highly visible to all your friends, neighbours, and colleagues every day. People love driving their Porsche vehicles, but they also are proud to be associated with the Porsche brand. Our brand loyalty is extremely high, and protecting it is our top priority – if that ever changed, customers would have plenty of other choices.

How important is a good brand?

Well, nothing is more important than great product, and Porsche builds some of the most remarkable cars in the history of the automobile. But there are many excellent cars – the promise of the brand makes the difference. Nobody needs a Porsche, but everybody wants a Porsche.

Is there any link between a good brand and customer loyalty?

No question. A brand is almost something you wear, and your choice of a car is highly visible to all your friends, neighbours, and colleagues every day. People love driving their Porsche vehicles, but they also are proud to be associated with the Porsche brand. Our brand loyalty is extremely high, and protecting it is our top priority – if that ever changed, customers would have plenty of other choices.

What qualities does the Porsche brand stand for?

Top quality; innovative engineering; a fabulous driving experience; and exceptional customer care. Porsche always has done things with finesse and creativity that some other companies have done with brute force – we call it “Porsche Intelligent Performance.” But we also are a brand with some inherent contradictions. Every Porsche is a serious performance car, but with everyday usability. Our brand offers high prestige, but also social responsibility. We stand for beautiful design, but also for function over form. Few, if any, other brands offer such a fascinating combination of attributes.

Can a brand today exist and flourish today without embracing social media and the new digital age?

Some of us of a certain age shake our heads at social media, but a successful business has to listen to its customers all the time. This means going where they are and speaking with them at their convenience, not yours. And Porsche customers are early adopters who really understand nd enjoy the latest technology. So the short answer to your question is ‘no’.

Do airports and/or airport operators need a brand?

Yes, but I think in a different way. Buying a car, you might look at a Jaguar or an Audi along with a Porsche. But if I’m flying to Detroit, there’s no question what airport I’m using. Even if I’m flying to a multi-airport city like Los Angeles, I’m considering schedule or location but not much else. On the other hand, if I’m doing a site search for a new plant or office, I don’t just want a city with decent flights – I want a city with a really good airport.


I want it to be easy to use, I want it to be cared for, I want it to make a good first impression. I want it to have a good reputation. I want to attract the best people and I want my customers and suppliers to want to come to me. A brand is a promise, a reputation – a top airport needs that.

Can you provide me with an example of what you consider to be a good ‘airport’ brand?

I think that Amsterdam Schiphol has developed its brand very well.


‘Schiphol’ has become not just an airport name but the name of an entire planned development, and the brand name is reinforced by its neighbours and its airlines. Somehow they have even got all the KLM flight crews to refer to it frequently and consistently in many inflight announcements – count how many times you hear, ‘Schiphol, the airport of Amsterdam’.


Additionally, it is a beautiful facility, with great amenities, easy to navigate, surrounded by a vibrant business community, close to a wonderful city, and it looks and operates all “of a piece” – very well thought out to make long journeys easier. And, it does little things well – like signage that looks like it was designed by the same person at the same time.


We actually have all those advantages and more here in Atlanta with Hartsfield-Jackson, and our new international terminal is just a masterpiece! Porsche is committed to joining the airport, local governments, and the business community in building a cohesive airport city around the busiest and best airport in the world.

Why have you located your North American HQ in Atlanta close to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?

Our new headquarters will not only be home to most of the Porsche associates in North America, it also will incorporate one of only two Porsche Experience Centers in America, one of only five in the world.


We want a home where everyone – our associates, our community, our owners, our dealers, and people who want to know more about Porsche – can live and breathe Porsche, and drive all our cars. In fact, part of our track will run through our building.


An estimated 80% of the US population is within a two-hour flight – and you can get here non-stop from nearly 300 places. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport literally brings the world to us, and from the terminals it will be just a brief shuttle ride to a waiting Porsche!


What has Hartsfield-Jackson got that other airports haven’t?

It has non-stop flights practically every day to practically anywhere you would want to go on the planet. It also has great infrastructure and amenities; is close to the centre of an amazing, vibrant, friendly city and it is surrounded by land that is ripe for redevelopment. If that is not enough it is served principally by two ultra-competent carriers (Delta and Southwest); we have a climate that allows great year-round reliability; and the airport management team is highly professional and totally committed to client service.


I can think of some otherwise nice airports where, when something breaks, they tape up a hand-scrawled, misspelled ‘out-of order sign’. At Hartsfield-Jackson, they fix it. I can’t even go there without seeing some new improvement project. It really is one of the best.

What is your understanding of the airport city concept and do you believe in it?

The ‘Aerotropolis’ concept is very well known and fully accepted by Porsche and our European colleagues see it every day at airports in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. It is clear that all business is now global and that access to worldwide transportation is a defining competitive advantage. Further, cities that have leveraged their transportation assets have tremendous advantages in economic development, and that is good for every business – indeed every citizen – in town. In many places in America, airports which were once far from population centres, like Washington Dulles and Dallas/Fort Worth, are now the anchors for thriving live-work-play communities. Working and living near major transportation assets will give us more time for things that really are important.


I am honoured to serve as the initial chairman of the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, a group of business, government, airport, and economic development leaders committed to building on our strengths, so we really do believe in it.


Are you a frequent flyer and do you have a favourite airport other than ATL?

I’m a very loyal and satisfied Delta customer. My goal every year is to stay home and fall out of Diamond or Platinum status with them, but I never accomplish it. I love flying, and think it’s a miracle. We think the car business is complicated, but it’s nothing compared to an airline dealing every day with tens of thousands of customers and countless variables it can’t control, and it can never let anything go wrong. I love flying into and out of ATL, but I have a special fondness for Stuttgart-Echterdingen (STR) – it is tiny, efficient, and friendly, and a very comfortable train ride from Porsche’s global headquarters and my favourite little hotel.

Top quality; innovative engineering; a fabulous driving experience; and exceptional customer care. Porsche always has done things with finesse and creativity that some other companies have done with brute force – we call it “Porsche Intelligent Performance.” But we also are a brand with some inherent contradictions. Every Porsche is a serious performance car, but with everyday usability. Our brand offers high prestige, but also social responsibility. We stand for beautiful design, but also for function over form. Few, if any, other brands offer such a fascinating combination of attributes.

Can a brand today exist and flourish today without embracing social media and the new digital age?

Some of us of a certain age shake our heads at social media, but a successful business has to listen to its customers all the time. This means going where they are and speaking with them at their convenience, not yours. And Porsche customers are early adopters who really understand nd enjoy the latest technology. So the short answer to your question is ‘no’.

Do airports and/or airport operators need a brand?

Yes, but I think in a different way. Buying a car, you might look at a Jaguar or an Audi along with a Porsche. But if I’m flying to Detroit, there’s no question what airport I’m using. Even if I’m flying to a multi-airport city like Los Angeles, I’m considering schedule or location but not much else. On the other hand, if I’m doing a site search for a new plant or office, I don’t just want a city with decent flights – I want a city with a really good airport.


I want it to be easy to use, I want it to be cared for, I want it to make a good first impression. I want it to have a good reputation. I want to attract the best people and I want my customers and suppliers to want to come to me. A brand is a promise, a reputation – a top airport needs that.

Can you provide me with an example of what you consider to be a good ‘airport’ brand?

I think that Amsterdam Schiphol has developed its brand very well.


‘Schiphol’ has become not just an airport name but the name of an entire planned development, and the brand name is reinforced by its neighbours and its airlines. Somehow they have even got all the KLM flight crews to refer to it frequently and consistently in many inflight announcements – count how many times you hear, ‘Schiphol, the airport of Amsterdam’.


Additionally, it is a beautiful facility, with great amenities, easy to navigate, surrounded by a vibrant business community, close to a wonderful city, and it looks and operates all “of a piece” – very well thought out to make long journeys easier. And, it does little things well – like signage that looks like it was designed by the same person at the same time.


We actually have all those advantages and more here in Atlanta with Hartsfield-Jackson, and our new international terminal is just a masterpiece! Porsche is committed to joining the airport, local governments, and the business community in building a cohesive airport city around the busiest and best airport in the world.

Why have you located your North American HQ in Atlanta close to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport?

Our new headquarters will not only be home to most of the Porsche associates in North America, it also will incorporate one of only two Porsche Experience Centers in America, one of only five in the world.


We want a home where everyone – our associates, our community, our owners, our dealers, and people who want to know more about Porsche – can live and breathe Porsche, and drive all our cars. In fact, part of our track will run through our building.


An estimated 80% of the US population is within a two-hour flight – and you can get here non-stop from nearly 300 places. The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport literally brings the world to us, and from the terminals it will be just a brief shuttle ride to a waiting Porsche!


What has Hartsfield-Jackson got that other airports haven’t?

It has non-stop flights practically every day to practically anywhere you would want to go on the planet. It also has great infrastructure and amenities; is close to the centre of an amazing, vibrant, friendly city and it is surrounded by land that is ripe for redevelopment. If that is not enough it is served principally by two ultra-competent carriers (Delta and Southwest); we have a climate that allows great year-round reliability; and the airport management team is highly professional and totally committed to client service.


I can think of some otherwise nice airports where, when something breaks, they tape up a hand-scrawled, misspelled ‘out-of order sign’. At Hartsfield-Jackson, they fix it. I can’t even go there without seeing some new improvement project. It really is one of the best.

What is your understanding of the airport city concept and do you believe in it?

The ‘Aerotropolis’ concept is very well known and fully accepted by Porsche and our European colleagues see it every day at airports in Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. It is clear that all business is now global and that access to worldwide transportation is a defining competitive advantage. Further, cities that have leveraged their transportation assets have tremendous advantages in economic development, and that is good for every business – indeed every citizen – in town. In many places in America, airports which were once far from population centres, like Washington Dulles and Dallas/Fort Worth, are now the anchors for thriving live-work-play communities. Working and living near major transportation assets will give us more time for things that really are important.


I am honoured to serve as the initial chairman of the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, a group of business, government, airport, and economic development leaders committed to building on our strengths, so we really do believe in it.


Are you a frequent flyer and do you have a favourite airport other than ATL?

I’m a very loyal and satisfied Delta customer. My goal every year is to stay home and fall out of Diamond or Platinum status with them, but I never accomplish it. I love flying, and think it’s a miracle. We think the car business is complicated, but it’s nothing compared to an airline dealing every day with tens of thousands of customers and countless variables it can’t control, and it can never let anything go wrong. I love flying into and out of ATL, but I have a special fondness for Stuttgart-Echterdingen (STR) – it is tiny, efficient, and friendly, and a very comfortable train ride from Porsche’s global headquarters and my favourite little hotel.

Share on social media

Author

Joe Bates

Written by

Email

Article Options

Latest from Joe Bates

Related items

Get the Airport World Newsletter!

Email
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
Follow us on Twitter

8683 peoples are following airportworldmag