Exec changes help Ford with basics

Ford departures
Three executives have left Ford Motor following CEO Jacques Nasser's departure.

  • Jason Vines, vice president, communications

  • Jonathan Browning, managing director, Jaguar Cars Ltd.

  • David Murphy, vice president, human resources

  • The executive changes at Ford Motor Co. last week should help the company concentrate on its new mission: getting back to automotive basics, especially for its core Ford brand products in North America.

    The reorganization will help the company's top managers work on autos by establishing a position for Martin Zimmerman, group vice president, corporate affairs. He will handle various tasks not directly related to the production and sale of autos.

    To further defuse the anger over Nasser's employee-grading system, dropped in July, the company promoted Joe Laymon to head of human resources. At Eastman Kodak Co., he had a reputation for promoting employee-friendly policies. (See story, Page 4.)

    The reorganization gives CEO William Clay Ford Jr. only three direct reports, 11 fewer than former CEO Jacques Nasser had. The former CEO was criticized for being a bottleneck because he had too many direct reports.

    Ford Motor also bulked up the Premier Automotive Group, hoping it can fulfill its profit potential as soon as possible.

    By giving the group more top-level manpower, the company also deflected questions about the future of Premier Automotive Group Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle.

    Although Reitzle was hired by Nasser, Reitzle has said he wishes to stay on as head of the luxury-vehicle organization - which is made up of the Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Lincoln brands.

    More reports for Reitzle

    Now reporting to Reitzle is Richard Parry-Jones, who maintains his title as Ford Motor's chief technical officer and global head of product development.

    On paper, Parry-Jones stays in charge of global product development. But Chris Theodore will be in charge of day-to-day product development for North American vehicles. Theodore now reports to Jim Padilla, group vice president of North America, instead of Parry-Jones.

    Welshman Parry-Jones will move from Ford Motor Co. headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to the United Kingdom. He now will take a more direct role in leading Premier Automotive Group product development. He still will report to Ford Motor COO Nick Scheele on global technical issues.

    Reitzle also gains a reporting line from Jan Klug, Ford Motor vice president of global marketing, who will focus on Premier Automotive Group. She will remain in Dearborn.

    "Our Premier Automotive Group is a critically important part of our global corporate portfolio and a major engine of growth for the future," Scheele said in a statement.

    With the Ford brand in America on a long road to recovery, it appears Ford Motor will be counting on Premier Automotive Group for profits.

    But with Jaguar growing and Land Rover retrenching, only Volvo can be counted on to deliver profits to the income statement for the short term, said John Lawson, financial analyst with Schroder Salomon Smith Barney in London.

    Hans-Olov Olsson, president of Volvo Car Corp., was rewarded with a corporate vice presidency last week.

    "There is a lot of potential in those luxury brands, but if you want to grow their volume, the profit contribution will be curtailed. The big swing factor in Ford profits will still rest with North American automotive operations, and with the light-truck business in particular," Lawson said.

    Fine-tuning

    Another fine-tuning of the Premier Automotive Group structure involves giving Bob Dover the corporate title of vice president of Jaguar and Land Rover. This title is in addition to his new status as president of the Land Rover and Jaguar brands, as well as head of the Premier Automotive Group operating committee overseeing Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin.

    Dover already has experience with all three automakers. Before coming to Land Rover, Dover was president of Aston Martin, chief engineer of the Jaguar XK8.In the 1980s, he was Land Rover's director of manufacturing.

    Land Rover spokesman Gavin Green said Dover's priority still is running the day-to-day operations of Land Rover, although he now must take a strategic view of the three British brands in his new role. As president of Jaguar, Dover now must also oversee that brand. But Managing Director Mike Beasley will handle Jaguar's day-to-day operations. Beasley replaced Jonathan Browning, who resigned after the British brands operating committee was created Oct. 31.

    The operating committee is studying ways the three automakers can cooperate outside of the brand lines, such as in purchasing, logistics and the back shop. Study teams are expected to have a report finished in early December.

    Noted Lawson: "Ford needs to make the whole of PAG greater than the sum of its parts. It seemed as though that sort of structure hadn't been in place. This is the sort of commitment that you want to see."

    Bill Ford's three direct reports are from: Vice Chairman Carl Reichardt, Scheele and Chief of Staff John Rintamaki.

    More global

    Klug had reported to Brian Kelley, Ford Motor's vice president in charge of global consumer services, before he took the top Lincoln Mercury job on Oct. 11.

    Klug's job won't change much. She still oversees global marketing of all the company's brands and coordinates best practices among them. But her focus will change.

    "There's been a North American focus with global marketing in the past, and that has brought Ford Division along pretty far," said company spokeswoman Paige Johnson. "The idea here is those best practices can be spread across PAG. Some of their marketing practices haven't been as global as they could've been."

    To whom Vic Doolan, Premier Automotive Group's executive director of North American marketing, will report is up in the air. Now that Klug more clearly oversees Premier Automotive Group globally by reporting to Reitzle, "it would make sense" if Doolan reported to Klug, Johnson said.

    Klug still oversees Trustmark, Ford's corporate brand, which is intended to build confidence in the company, its products and services. But the Trustmark program for carrying out corporate citizenship is being de-emphasized. Johnson said it soon "might not be recognizable."

    Automotive News Staff Reporter Julie Cantwell contributed to this report

    You can reach Richard Truett at rtruett@crain.com

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