As of today, Jan. 24, Martin Inglis should feel more at home in the United States.
He expects to be sworn in today as a U.S. citizen in a federal courthouse in Detroit.
Inglis' new citizenship is well timed. On Jan. 1 he became responsible for figuring out what Americans want to buy when they walk into a Ford Division dealership.
Right now, Inglis' Ford North America business unit is a profit powerhouse, propelling Ford Motor Co.'s worldwide earnings to record levels. But Ford Division's market share declined in the United States last year. Relations with dealers are chilly. And the division's crown jewels - its sport-utilities - face a barrage of new competition.
Inglis, 49, vice president of Ford North America, a newly created business unit, already has a game plan.
To rebuild momentum Ford Division will:
Build a Ford Division-only organization
Create a sharper identity for the Ford brand
Vest power in a new Ford Division chief in North America, Inglis.
'You always wake up worried about what the competition may do,' Inglis said during an interview this month. 'But I don't get too hung with that. I conclude that you can turn that the other way around and have them worry about what you are going to do.'
ONE BRAND, ONE TEAM
Inglis, a British citizen whose career at Ford spans three decades, takes over a new Ford-brand business unit designed to give him regional autonomy in the United States, Canada and Mexico. His counterpart in North America for Ford Motor Co. luxury brands is Wolfgang Reitzle. Ford created similar autonomous units in Europe, South America and Asia Pacific.
'It is a complete business unit focused around the Ford brand,' Inglis said. 'Now there is somebody responsible for the whole business of Ford in the United States.'
Inglis pioneered Ford's new organization last year while he presided over the South American market.
'Because we have the total business within our control we can make decisions more quickly and at a lower level,' he said.
'We started to go back to the basics of what it takes to run a business, back to quality, customer satisfaction, brand and distribution issues,' Inglis said.
His operating committee includes Jim O'Connor, Ford Division president; Gurminder Bedi, vice president of North America Truck; Chris Theodore, vice president of North America Car; Shamel Rushwin, vice president of vehicle operations; Darryl Hazel, executive director of Ford Customer Service Division for North America; and appointees from Canadian and Mexican operations, public affairs, governmental relations and finance.
'The regional groups' mission in life is to be absolutely, completely plugged into consumers,' said Robert Rewey, group vice president of consumer services and North America.
Inglis, who has day-to-day responsibilities for North America, reports to Rewey. Rewey characterized himself as a 'champion' for the North American region. Three other executives provide similar oversight in other markets, he said. They are: global product-development boss Richard Parry-Jones in Europe; global purchasing czar Carlos Mazzorin in South America; and CFO Henry Wallace in Asia Pacific, Rewey said.
Inglis said he wants the Ford brand in the United States to pass his 'pub-discussion' test.
'In Britain we have what I call the pub discussion,' he said. 'A pub is a public house like an inn. If a person comes up to you and says, `Describe to me what Ford is all about,' you have to have a crystal clear way to describe what the Ford brand is all about. I want to get more work done on being able to have that discussion with every consumer.
'The whole issue of safety at an affordable price is something we can project better,' Inglis said. 'Innovation is another thing we can project better. And some of the stuff we have done on low-emission vehicles embodies the spirit of the brand. And it is all at an affordable level.
'I am a believer in the innovator's premium. For a period of time there is an advantage,' he said.
In the 1970s and the 1980s, Inglis held a number of finance positions in Europe, Taiwan and North America.
He first worked with Ford President Jac Nasser in 1994. 'We were always going in different directions,' Inglis said. 'When I was in Asia, he was in South America. When I was in Europe, he was in Asia. When he was in Europe, I was in the United States. We were never on the same continent until 1994 when he became the head of product development and I was his head of product strategy in the United States. That was the first time we worked together.'