DETROIT -- With Ford Motor Co. facing difficult times, CEO Bill Ford has turned to a trusted family member to become his chief of staff.
On Friday, Nov. 4, the company named Steve Hamp, Ford's brother-in-law, to that post. The move takes effect Dec. 1.
Hamp replaces Jim Vella.
Hamp, 57, is president of The Henry Ford, which includes the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village tourist attractions in Dearborn, Mich.
Hamp will advise Bill Ford on shaping the company's strategic direction and executive team. The appointment comes as Bill Ford tries to instill a culture of innovation in the company that bears his family name.
Ford, who is chairman of the board of The Henry Ford, is already Hamp's boss.
Hamp is married to Ford's sister, Sheila. He is known in Detroit for numerous community activities and board memberships, as well as his fund-raising talent.
Hamp has turned The Henry Ford into one of the nation's top historical tourist attractions. The complex includes Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Since Hamp became president in 1996, about $160 million has been invested in improvements in the complex.
"I've seen firsthand the kind of impact Steve can have on an organization," said Bill Ford in a prepared statement. "He has an amazing ability to get people to work together productively. He will be a terrific asset to me as we drive the turnaround of our business."
Vella, 49, will remain with Ford Motor to lecture university students around the country about the company. His schedule has not yet been determined. Vella became chief of staff in June 2004.
Hamp told Automotive News Ford first approached him about working at Ford a couple of months ago.
"We've talked frequently about his challenges," Hamp said. "This came out of his belief I could add value to him whether I'm his brother-in-law or not."
Hamp said the two men are close. "We socialize quite a bit," he said. "There's a pretty close family relationship among his siblings and his folks."
Asked what talents he brings to the new job, Hamp pointed to his work gathering talent at The Henry Ford.
"I have a great team of leaders," he said. "That's the thing I'm proudest of -- building that team
It's a skill Hamp will need in his new job. Since the tumultuous Jacques Nasser era, Ford has struggled to hang onto its top talent. A number of key engineers and executives have departed in recent months.
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