Two executives who were partners in reviving Jaguar will tackle Ford Motor Co.'s biggest challenge in North America: improving quality.
Last week, Ford handed Nick Scheele and Jim Padilla critical roles in the company's most important market. Scheele, 57, who is Ford of Europe chairman, will command a powerful executive team charged with turning around Ford's embattled North American business.
Padilla, 55, who worked alongside Scheele in the 1990s at Jaguar, remains Ford's manufacturing boss. But he adds quality to his portfolio.
The two Ford veterans have a larger job than they did nearly a decade ago at Jaguar.
North America is the primary source of Ford's profits. But declining market share, dealer unrest, employee dissatisfaction, product recalls and quality problems beset Ford in North America. Most conspicuously, Ford is paying $2.1 billion to recall 13 million Firestone tires, and that tire recall is undermining the profitable Ford Explorer brand name.
This spring, Ford fell behind General Motors in the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Initial Quality Study. A series of recalls has embarrassed Ford. For example, the Ford Escape has suffered five safety recalls since its introduction 13 months ago. The redesigned 2002 Ford Explorer was recalled twice in the early days after introduction.
Scheele and Padilla face a huge task, but no one is suggesting that Ford's North American operations are at the level of near-ruin the two execs found at Jaguar. Jaguar had no product cycle plan. Ford axed the only car in development, an overweight, underpowered F-Type. Labor relations were rocky. Manufacturing quality was abysmal.
Scheele and Padilla arrived at Jaguar in 1992, transforming the unit into an industry success story. They oversaw dramatic gains in Jaguar sales and quality.
Some of the pieces of Ford's quality turnaround game plan already are in place.
For example, this summer Ford began sending 100 additional engineers into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturing plants in the United States to enforce quality standards.
Ford's efforts to improve quality also include Six Sigma programs, which use a statistical method invented by Motorola Inc. to boost quality and profits and cut costs.
Richard Parry-Jones is handing off Ford's quality responsibilities to Padilla. Parry-Jones remains group vice president of product development and adds the job of chief technical officer.
Ford's management changes, announced Thursday, July 12, keep CEO Jacques Nasser in charge. But Scheele, now group vice president for North America, will steer the Ford brand vehicle business in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Ford is giving Scheele additional executive firepower.
For example, the company is creating two vice presidencies with responsibilities only in North America. And two corporate vice presidents, who previously reported to Nasser, will report to Scheele.
The Ford board of directors drew its new team from the talent cultivated by Nasser. But the company clearly wanted to create a deeper pool of seasoned executives.
Scheele's cabinet includes two relative newcomers to Ford, Kathleen Ligocki and Shamel Rushwin.
Ligocki, 44, arrived at Ford in 1998 after building her career at GM and the automotive division of United Technologies Corp.
Ligocki has been CEO at Ford of Mexico since January 2000. Now she takes up a newly created post, vice president of Canada, Mexico and North America strategy, reporting to Scheele. The chiefs in Canada and Mexico will report to Ligocki.
Rushwin, 53, also moves into a job created in Scheele's operating group. Rushwin will serve as vice president of North America business operations, reporting to Scheele. Rushwin moved to Ford in 1999 from DaimlerChrysler, where he was vice president of international manufacturing and minivan assembly operations.
At Ford, Rushwin has been vice president of vehicle operations, responsible for managing 66 stamping and vehicle assembly plants worldwide.
Padilla, one of 11 children, was a 19-year-old co-op student in quality-control engineering when he joined Ford in 1966. Today he monitors production at 110 plants in 25 countries. He oversees almost 80 percent of the 346,000 people employed by Ford worldwide. In 2000, he was named Hispanic Engineer of the Year by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference.
Padilla is anything but a desk-bound manager. In a recent interview, he said he visits at least 50 Ford plants annually. Each quarter, he blocks out his schedule to spend an entire day at a single plant with vice presidents and manufacturing operating committee in tow.
Ford's new organization, effective Aug. 1, is not a radical departure.
In January 2000, the company created six consumer business groups, autonomous units run by an executive reporting to Nasser. In North America, Martin Inglis headed the unit as a vice president. In the new regime, Inglis is appointed CFO.
A career-long Ford employee, Scheele has one of the broadest resumes of any senior Ford executive. He is a native of Great Britain and has lived and worked in the United States, Mexico, Great Britain and Germany. In addition to English, he speaks German, Spanish and French fluently.
Ford Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. and the Ford family trust Scheele, and he enjoys a good working relationship with Nasser, insiders say. The affable Scheele is likely to be perceived as a calming influence in a corporate culture rent by Nasser's hard-driving style.
The people who report directly to Nasser will fall to 13, from 16. Padilla and Brian Kelley, vice president of global consumer services, will report to Scheele. Wayne Booker, vice chairman, is retiring at the end of the year.