NEW YORK -- Competing automakers have revved up their pursuit of Ford Motor Co.'s design talent in recent months.
Ford has lost some designers to the raids. But it was able to promote other people in order to convince them to stay, said Peter Horbury, Ford's executive director of design for North America. "We've been through a very, very severe period of being targeted by some of the newcomers," Horbury told Automotive News at a press event here. "So I've been busy on a retention campaign, which, thankfully, managed to secure some of what I would call critical talent."
Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans said that just a couple of people actually left Ford during the process. She named Toyota and Nissan as the companies that have strongly targeted Ford designers during the past few months.
Ford wouldn't identify any designers who left for Toyota or Nissan.
But earlier in the year, notable Ford concept car designer Joe Baker took a job at Citroen, Horbury said. Baker left in April, Evans said.
Baker is the highly regarded young designer responsible for the new face of Ford-brand cars. He designed the 427 concept car that boasts the three-bar grille slated for use on Ford production cars. Baker also designed the Bronco concept from 2004 and the SynUS concept from 2005.
"I don't like it when key talent leaves, but it's inevitable," Horbury said. "You have to be ready for it, prepare yourself to have a team of people able to step in."
That's just what Ford has done, said Joe Laymon, Ford's group vice president of corporate human resources and labor affairs. Despite the departures, Ford has added key design talent in recent months such as Freeman Thomas and Steve Mattin, both from DaimlerChrysler.
"We have not had a net loss" of design talent, Laymon said. "We have had a net upgrade because of the outside hires."
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