Frank Macher: Returns to Ford Motor to help with Visteon
Ford Motor Co. hired him late last month to sell nearly two dozen cast-off units from Visteon Corp.
Previously he had spent three years trying to fix Federal-Mogul Corp., which he shepherded into Chapter 11 in 2001 to deal with asbestos liability claims.
Before that, he ran ITT Automotive - until the parent company bailed out of the auto parts business and sold off the unit in chunks.
His new job puts him in charge of a company that doesn't even have a name yet. He is CEO of the holding company that will run the 24 parts plants and engineering operations Ford acquired from Visteon.
The troubled operations landed in Ford's lap late last month as part of the automaker's Visteon rescue package.
The job is a homecoming for Macher, 63. He worked at Ford for 30 years before retiring in 1996.
His last job at Ford: running the auto parts operations that were spun off to create Visteon in 2000, many of which are back under his command.
Visteon, of Van Buren Township, Mich., tried unsuccessfully to sell some of the unprofitable plants, including the glass operations. The operations have 17,400 Ford employees.
Macher has one advantage: a deal with the UAW that will let new owners of the plants negotiate lower wages.
But the workers will remain Ford employees, earning an average of $62 an hour in salary and benefits; Ford will subsidize the rates negotiated by the plants' new owners.
The arrangement will continue under future Ford-UAW agreements.
It's a challenge similar to the reclamation project Macher faced at Federal-Mogul, which manufactures engine, transmission and lighting components.
Federal-Mogul ranks No. 44 on the Automotive News list of top 150 suppliers to North America with North American original-equipment automotive parts sales of $1.26 billion in 2004.
When Macher became Federal-Mogul's CEO in January 2001, the Southfield, Mich., auto supplier was straining under a heavy debt load from the acquisition binge aimed at making the company a $10 billion-a-year supplier.
One of those acquisitions was T&N PLC.
When T&N was hit with thousands of lawsuits from people alleging illness from asbestos, it further threatened Federal-Mogul.
Macher sought federal help to protect companies from the lawsuits. When that failed, he put Federal-Mogul into Chapter 11 for protection from creditors.
The supplier has yet to emerge from Chapter 11.
Macher left Federal-Mogul in January 2004 when his contract expired.
You may e-mail Dale Jewett at [email protected]