Mendel began his career with Ford Motor Co., U.S. operations in 1976 and held numerous sales and marketing positions within Lincoln Mercury and Ford Customer Service. He was appointed major markets/dealer advertising manager in 1990, and regional operations manager in Chicago in 1992. Mendel served as regional manager for Ford's San Francisco and Los Angeles operations from 1993 through 1998. He served as director of marketing with Ford of Britain from 1999 to 2002.
Mendel has undergraduate degrees in business and economics and an MBA from Duke University.