Ford Motor Co. may repair its frayed supplier ties by moving a popular purchasing chief from its European operations to an American post.
Paul Stokes, 60, head of Ford's European purchasing, succeeds Andrew Hinkly, who has left the company. Stokes becomes executive director of Americas production purchasing operations. He reports to Tony Brown, senior vice president of global purchasing.
North American suppliers rank Ford last among the Detroit 3 in its vendor relations, according to an annual survey by Planning Perspectives Inc. During an Oct. 26 interview, Ford CEO Alan Mulally told Automotive News that he was disappointed with the poor marks Ford received from suppliers.
Analyst John Henke Jr. of Planning Perspectives says the good relationship Stokes built between Ford and its suppliers in Europe is "not because of Stokes personally but because of the organization he created and the values he instilled in the organization."
Says one supplier executive whose company has not fared well at Ford purchasing: "There remains room for optimism."
At a conference in Spain sponsored by Automotive News Europe in 2005, Stokes said that he wanted good relations with his suppliers: "Anyone with a problem should pick up the phone and talk to me about it."