DETROIT -- In naming John Felice to succeed Ken Czubay as head of U.S. marketing, sales and service, Ford Motor Co. promoted a veteran insider known for his close ties to dealers.
"He's a collaborator, a dealer guy," said Jim Seavitt, owner of Village Ford in Dearborn, Mich. "He's hands on. He calls me to see how many cars I have out. He's very, very active in that."
Felice, 51, assumes his new duties on Nov. 1 when Czubay, a hard-charging fitness fanatic who turns 65 next month, retires.
The move was one of several changes Ford announced last week in its senior U.S. sales and marketing team and its Ford of Europe product development team.
The promotion sets the stage for other changes. David Mondragon, 52, general marketing manager for Ford and Lincoln in the United States, will replace Felice as general sales manager for Ford and Lincoln. Chantel Lenard, 44, head of marketing for Ford's Asia Pacific Africa region, will replace Mondragon as U.S. marketing manager for Ford and Lincoln.
Dealers praised Felice as an upbeat, energetic executive with a good feel for the dealer network at the grass-roots level. They say he is constantly on the road working closely with Ford's dealer council and marketing advisory committees.
"He is a dealer senior management idol. He highly respects the dealer's opinion," said Rich Savino, owner of All American Ford in Old Bridge, N.J., near New York City, and a member of the Ford National Dealer Council.
Felice will report jointly to Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford's Americas region, and Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales, service and Lincoln.
Felice, who joined Ford in 1984, has held a variety of positions with the company in the United States and abroad. He was in charge of marketing, sales and service for Ford's Asia Pacific Africa region, which stretches from South Africa to New Zealand and includes Thailand, China, India, Australia, Japan and other countries.