News that Mark Fields is out at Ford Motor Co. left surprised dealers on Monday with a common reaction: Who is Jim Hackett?
In the wake of Fields' sudden departure, Ford- and Lincoln-brand dealers have to ponder a future with a new CEO they know little about.
Hackett made his name outside of the automotive industry from 1994 to 2014 as CEO of Steelcase Inc., a company that makes office furniture.
Hackett's work within the auto industry, in contrast, is limited. He became a Ford board member in 2013 and then served as executive chairman of Ford Smart Mobility beginning in March 2016.
While the thought of appointing a relative automotive neophyte may sound like a scary proposition to outside observers, Ford dealers have been through this before with former CEO Alan Mulally, who ran aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. before jumping to Ford. Due to Mulally's success at Ford, he was revered by many dealers when he retired in 2014. Dealers are hoping Hackett can summon that same magic.