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Ford's product pipeline will remain full, Fields says

Fields: "We will not be putting the COO role in. We have the right management team and we think the structure is just right for us now."

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Ford Motor Co. COO Mark Fields said at a press conference Thursday that when he takes over as CEO on July 1, he will “stay relentlessly focused … on bringing even more great products and innovations with top quality to the marketplace.”

His comments on this and other subjects:

Reinforcing Ford’s product passion:

“This is a business about product, and we will never forget that as a company. And that that’s why it is so important our product pipeline remains absolutely full. But, we want to make sure our customers experience our products or services that they have a smile on their face every time they go through Ford Motor Co. … This product passion is so important for us because it’s what attracts so many of us to the business to begin with, and these days that’s a key differentiator, so we will maintain and actually accelerate that product passion as we go forward.”

Maintaining the success of the One Ford plan:

“My commitment is to build on that success, to accelerate our pace of progress because, as we’ve said, we are just starting to see the benefits of the power of the One Ford plan. And also our commitment is to continue to bring those great products out with great innovations that will not only help fuel our growth but also to help define our company.

“I am very passionate about product and I share Bill’s [Executive Chairman Bill Ford’s] vision on leading the industry through innovation because it is exciting and it’s great for our customers. But it’s those products and innovations that first brought me to Ford 25 years ago. Since the first day I walked in here, this company has exceeded my first impressions, and first and foremost the people. That’s the reason I came to Ford 25 years ago.”

Carrying on outgoing CEO Alan Mulally’s legacy:

“I think our biggest opportunity is to continue to implement our plan and accelerate the pace of progress. …The most important thing is we’re learning as we go along. The key is how you take those [lessons] to improve the business even more and accelerate the progress even more.

“It’s an incredible honor to build on Alan’s legacy and lead this great company, and work with the best darn team in the industry. I feel very fortunate.”

The Ford family:

“We’re a family. We have first, second, third [and] fourth generation employees … who share the sense of community of being part of Ford and the Ford family of employees.

“We have the best darn dealer network in the world. I love walking through those dealerships and seeing the pictures of the history [of those] who started the dealership. We have great suppliers, many [that] have been with us for years, and we share a trust and respect for each other and the communities in which we live and work in.”

How his approach will differ from Mulally’s’:

“We’re all like snowflakes. We’re all a little different. I bring a little bit different management style than Alan, but nonetheless what we share … is this burning desire to continue this culture of working together and of positive leadership.

“I think what we both share is having a strong, vibrant and profitable growing company.”

His team and the vacant COO position:

“We have a great team … it’s the strongest team I have ever worked with. When you sit in our meetings -- and we spend a decent amount of time in our meetings -- the level of camaraderie and trust and respect that we have with each other … we have never had that dynamic in most of my career at the company. And it’s so refreshing. That’s why when we walk into the room and everyday and we go about running the business, it’s energizing.

“So, I don’t plan on making any changes, because it is the strongest team and we’re just going to all continue rowing in the same direction, helping each other out [and] reinforcing the culture as we grow the business.

“We will not be putting the COO role in. We have the right management team and we think the structure is just right for us now.”

You can reach Andrew Thurlow at athurlow@crain.com.


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