Robert Rewey, a former Ford Motor Co. sales and marketing chief who helped the company become dominant in the SUV market, pioneered leasing as an alternative to traditional financing and pushed a controversial consolidation of Ford’s dealership network in the late 1990s, died Saturday at his home in Palm Beach, Fla., after a brief illness.
He was 76.
Rewey retired from Ford in 2001 after a 38-year career that included a variety of high-level positions. He was a current board member at Sonic Automotive, LoJack Corp. and Speedway MotorSports.
Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, in a statement, praised Rewey as “a great marketing visionary.” Bill Ford, who became CEO a few months after Rewey retired, later turned to Rewey for help leading the company through a difficult period.
“He inspired a passion for connecting with the customer at Ford and initiated many groundbreaking marketing innovations, including leasing and brand management that set the standard for the entire auto industry,” Bill Ford said. “He was a compassionate leader who served as a role model for so many people that were fortunate enough to know him and work with him. Our sincerest condolences and thoughts go out to his wife, Suzanne, and the entire Rewey family.”
Rewey often described his primary responsibility as “moving the iron.”