NEW YORK - Vic Doolan, the highly successful president of BMW of North America Inc., said he jumped to Ford's Premier Automotive Group to join a winner and to take on a new challenge.
'In the automotive jungle, the large eat the small, and the fast eat the slow. What I think is, the large and the fast will never go hungry. And they (Ford) are dynamic and aggressive. They are large and fast,' Doolan said in a phone interview last week.
Doolan, 58, becomes the latest in a line of top executives to join Ford Motor Co. from other automakers. In the process, he rejoins a couple of former BMW AG colleagues: Wolfgang Reitzle and Dieter Laxy.
Reitzle runs the Premier group -which is made up of Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin - as group vice president. He joined Ford in March, after he was passed over for chairman at BMW. As executive director of North American marketing and distribution strategy, Doolan reports to Reitzle in his new job.
The two have known each other more than 20 years. Reitzle worked for BMW 23 years; Doolan, for 22. Doolan acknowledged that joining Reitzle made it easier for him to decide to leave BMW.
TIME TO MOVE
Doolan said he was happy at BMW.
'My years at BMW were great, really marvelous. The people at BMW North America were fabulous, and it was a success - a sales success, financial success, model mix, dealers, the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience (test drives), almost any way you want to measure success. I like to think I had a small part in that ... (but) it was time to move on,' he said.
BMW imposed a new corporate structure at the same time Doolan took the top U.S. job in 1993. The reorganization meant Doolan reported to the chairman of the newly created BMW (US) Holding Corp., which also included responsibility for all of the New World, instead of straight to Germany. But that was six years ago, and if it bothered Doolan, he never let on.
Laxy was managing director for BMW subsidiary Rover Group in Germany. He quit to become senior vice president of global marketing for Volvo Car Corp.
Ford bought Volvo Car in March.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Ford also hired former Nissan Motor Corp. executive Earl Hesterberg, who most recently worked for Gulf States Toyota, an independent distributor. On July 1, Hesterberg became Ford of Eu-rope's vice president of marketing, sales and service.
Doolan said his new job is to work 'behind the scenes,' to see where the different brands can help each other, while keeping the brands distinct to the customer.
While Doolan reports to Reitzle, the heads of the U.S. sales and marketing subsidiaries do not report to Doolan.
'My job is not operations in any way. I will strictly be looking after marketing and distribution strategies. Volvo, Jaguar, Lincoln and Aston Martin are very clear-cut brands. The strategy is to see how to grow those individually, to see what we can learn from each other. If these brands grow individually, then Premier Automotive Group will grow,' Doolan said.
Doolan's interim successor at BMW is Tom Purves, 50, chairman and CEO of BMW (US) Holding Corp.