From an early age, Frederiek Toney always had his eye on the big prize. He was going to make something of his life, stand above the crowd, become a leader of men and maybe a captain of industry. I want to be my own man, the 18-year-old native of Madison said in a 1973 interview with a local publication called The Good Neighbor News. Someday, I intend to own my own business. The story was written shortly after Toney had enrolled at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. This is just the first step toward that goal, he said confidently as he embarked on his college career. There was a time when young Toney also aspired to make a name for himself on the basketball court. A star at West Madison Junior High, he played three years from 1971-73 at Lee High School, making second-team All-City as a junior and first-team All-City, first-team All-Region and honorable mention All-State as a senior captain of the team. His 5-foot-10 height worked against him after high school, however, and no colleges came calling. But Toney still had his academic record. In 1973, he won the Student-Athlete Academic Award for having the highest grade point average of any graduating athlete at Lee. His subsequent enrollment at UAH roughly coincided with the universitys decision to upgrade its club basketball program to varsity status. The school hired Kayo Willis, the freshman coach at Murray State, to kick-start basketball and within three years UAH was playing in the NAIA national tournament with a scrappy team that included the coachs son, Dean, and two former Lee players, Richard Gattis and Frederiek Toney. All three are now members of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. Toney parlayed his degree from UAH and a masters degree from the University of LaVerne in California into a remarkable business career, just as he foresaw as a young man. He spent 16 years with Caterpillar, Inc., in a variety of managerial assignments, then worked seven years at American Honda Motor Company, rising to the position of Assistant Vice President, Parts Division. Then he joined Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., in 2000. Fourteen years later, his title is Vice President, Ford Motor Company, and President of Global Ford Customer Service. He has been named a Global Top 50 Decision Maker and one of the 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America. The most influential person in his athletic and professional career, says Toney, has been his older brother, James Toney Jr., who transferred from Councill Training and played basketball at Lee in 1970-71. My game was molded on the playground, competing head-to-head with James, Frederiek said. He was bigger, stronger, more experienced, more athletic. He forced me to develop my skills. Most importantly, he taught me to compete and take pride in excellence. It was James pursuit of his MBA that inspired me to do the same. His success in marriage, parenting and business inspired me to dream big and have confidence in my ability to achieve great things. It was James who urged me to leave a safe, secure position at Caterpillar to accept a more senior position at American Honda and later to leave Honda for Ford. He has been an unselfish supporter as only a proud big brother can be. Hes exemplary as a loving family man, brother and human being. I owe much to him. Frederiek Toney is on the Trustees Foundation at UAH and the School of Business Advisory Council at both UAH and Central State University in Ohio. He and wife, Cynthia, have four children: Frederiek Jr., Camille, Simone and Danielle.