Powerful few run Ford North America

DETROIT - Kathleen Ligocki will work in a small, powerful group of executives running Ford Motor Co.'s operations in North America.

Nick Scheele, who commands the group, has been given more clout than his predecessor, Martin Inglis. For example, two corporate vice presidents, Jim Padilla and Brian Kelley, report to Scheele for North American operations. Previously, the pair reported to Jacques Nasser, Ford CEO.

Padilla, group vice president of manufacturing and quality, and Kelley, vice president of global consumer services, continue to report to Nasser for non-North America activities. But with the changes, which took effect Aug. 1, the number of people reporting directly to Nasser falls to 13, from 16. Wayne Booker, vice chairman, is retiring at the end of the year.

In addition, Ford created two new vice presidencies for Scheele's cabinet. One is the job Ligocki will hold as vice president of Canada, Mexico and North America strategy. The other is a new post of vice president of North America business operations, filled by Shamel Rushwin.

Scheele - group vice president for North America - and his management team are responsible for all operations, including manufacturing, product development, marketing and sales, for Ford brand vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Wolfgang Reitzle, head of the Premier Automotive Group, oversees Ford Motor Co.'s luxury brands in North America.

Scheele takes over one of the six autonomous consumer business groups Ford created in January 2000. Scheele, like his predecessor Martin Inglis, reports to Nasser, as does Reitzle.

Ford's structure now puts two strong executives, Scheele and Reitzle, in charge of operations in the critical North American market. The two will work more directly with William Clay Ford Jr., Ford chairman, than have executives in the past.

In July, Ford created an Office of the Chairman and CEO, increasing the authority and decision-making voice of Bill Ford.

Last week, Nasser made his first public remarks since the change, commenting, 'On balance, I wouldn't change places with anyone else in the auto industry.'

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