Visteon promotes Donald Stebbins to CEO

Outgoing CEO Johnston stays on as executive chairman

Donald Stebbins
DETROIT -- Supplier Visteon Corp. last week promoted Donald Stebbins to CEO, replacing Michael Johnston at the company’s helm.

Johnston, 60, will remain executive chairman of the former parts unit of Ford Motor Co. The moves are effective June 1.

Stebbins, 50, had been president and COO since joining Visteon in 2005. He previously served a 13-year stint at Lear Corp. The company said the move was a “timely and logical” step in its succession planning.

“The three-year plan that we launched in 2006 is successfully positioning Visteon for sustainable success,” Johnston said in a statement. “As we approach the conclusion of this phase of our transformation, it’s a logical time for Don to assume a greater role in steering the organization into the future.”

Johnston has held the chairman and CEO titles since June 1, 2005. In September 2000, he joined the supplier as president and COO. He was named CEO in June 2004.

As CEO, Stebbins will oversee the company’s efforts to execute the remainder of its turnaround, as well as company operations, sales, manufacturing, product development, r&d and customer relations worldwide.

Struggling to make a profit

Visteon has struggled since being formed when Ford spun-off of its parts-making operations in 2000. The company hasn’t posted an annual profit since then.Visteon spokeswoman Julie Fream said the company expects to return to profitability in 2010.

In 2005, Ford was forced to bail out Visteon and took back several plants from the supplier. Ford then formed Automotive Components Holdings LLC to manage the sale or closing of those plants.

Then in 2006, Visteon announced a turnaround plan that would restructure its operations by closing, fixing or selling another 30 operations worldwide. The program cut thousands of jobs and refocused the company’s product and customer strategy.

Nineteen out of the 30 identified plants have been addressed since the restructuring plan was announced. Seven more plants are scheduled for closure, sale or restructuring by year-end.

Visteon, based in suburban Detroit, specializes in automotive interiors, climate controls and electronics. It ranks No. 12 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America with North American original-equipment automotive parts sales of $3.43 billion in 2007.

You can reach Philip Nussel at pnussel@crain.com

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