LONDON - David Thursfield, the 53-year-old Englishman sent to help fix Ford of Europe, declares himself a man of action.
'I tend to deliver on what I say I'm going to do,' said Thursfield, who became president of Ford of Europe on Jan. 1. 'I get very focused on what I'm doing.'
He is a longtime Ford manufacturing executive. His goal is to make Ford of Europe healthy and profitable within two years. He aims to do it by speeding up product development, manufacturing and procurement, getting new vehicles to market faster. He doesn't want to do it by cutting corners.
'We're going to cut our own path and be leaders instead of followers,' he said. 'Unless we have a better idea (than the competition), we won't do it.'
LEADING TASK FORCE
All technical operations in Europe now report to Thursfield, including product development, manufacturing and purchasing. He is leading a task force that will deliver within three months a comprehensive list of recommendations for turning around Ford of Europe.
Thursfield was recruited from the company's U.S. operations by Ford of Europe Chairman Nick Scheele, and he has the ideal resume for his new job. Coming from a manufacturing background, he has seen the best of Ford's manufacturing operations around the world.
He learned his craft as a protege of Bill Hayden, the legendary manufacturing chief who cemented his reputation by leading the turnaround of Jaguar's manufacturing operations as the first Ford-appointed chairman of Jaguar.
'Nick and Dave have perfectly complementary career paths,' said Bruce Blythe, former finance and strategy chief at Ford of Europe.
Before coming back to Europe, Thursfield worked for two years as vice president of vehicle operations for Ford Automotive Operations in Detroit, where he was responsible for Ford plants in North America and Australia. Before that, he served in the same capacity in Cologne, Germany, overseeing Ford's manufacturing operations in Europe and South America.
NO STEPPING STONE
From 1992 to 1996, Thursfield was director of body and assembly operations at Ford of Europe. From 1984 to 1992, he was general manufacturing manager at Valencia, Spain, and Dagenham, England, and also was general operations manager for the Halewood, England; Saarlouis, Germany; Valencia; Dagenham; Genk, Belgium; and Niehl, Germany, operations.
He was general operations manager of Ford Assembly Operations in Australia from 1979 to 1984.
He began his Ford career as manager of the Broadmeadows assembly plant in Australia after working as a plant manager with British Leyland.
Asked how long he is committed to his job in Europe, Thursfield responds firmly that he'll stay until the job is done and that he does not regard Europe as a career path to somewhere else.
'We can't use Europe as a finishing school,' he said.