|Bill Ford Resigns / Ford's New CEO
For the past five years, Bill Ford Jr., the great grandson of the legendary Henry Ford, has given Ford enthusiasts some hope that the degenerating auto company would be brought back to life. He first made it onto the scene at Ford in 1979, eventually making his way all the way up to the position of CEO in October of 2001 after Jacques Nasser was booted. From the beginning, Ford expressed his strong desire to restore the company bearing his name. When 2002 rolled around, Ford had pulled together a turn-around plan for the company that would lead them into true profitiability. Unfortunately, things didn't go as expected and as time went on, it became apparent that it simply wasn't going to work. That's where Mark Fields comes in.
Mark Fields had been working as the executive vice president of Ford of Europe and Ford's Premier Automotive Group (Jaguar, Aston-Martin, Volvo, Land Rover) when Bill Ford Jr. called him up to assume the position of executive vice president of Ford Motor Company and President of the Americas at Ford. Between Ford and Fields, the two put together a new turn-around plan that was unveiled this past January, four years after Ford's original plan. The plan was nicknamed the "Way Forward". Although the company would have to cut at least 25,000 jobs and close 14 plants by 2012, it appeared necessary to put Ford back on track. The short-term certainly wasn't proving anything positive about the plan (not like it was expected to anyway). Even before the plan, though, there were rumors that Bill Ford would step down and make way for somebody new to fill his position. Many people on the web were sure that if Ford resigned, Nissan and Renault's CEO Carlos Ghosn would take command. That proved not to be true.
Carlos Ghosn surely didn't take a position at Ford. Ghosn, of course, made a deal to be in alliance with Ford's American rival GM. Ford looked a bit elsewhere to another "turn-around" type executive. In this case, Boeing senior executive Alan Mulally was moved to Ford's top position. After months of rumors speaking about Bill Ford's failure to make proper business decisions (AutoHeadline Article)., dealing with family members who he had a hard time demoting or firing from top positions. After the two apparently unsuccessful plans and some failed business work, we could assume Mr. Ford felt he just couldn't accomplish the task given to him back in 2001. Good-bye, old friend.
*Image Courtesy of Boeing*
I didn't mean to mislead you at the end of the last paragraph. You should realize that Bill Ford will still have a strong hold on the actions that take place at the auto company as he continues to sit as Chairman of the Board, a position he took back in 1999. From here on out, Ford faithfuls will have to push for the new CEO, Alan Mulally to properly lead the world's 2nd largest automotive manufacturer back into the #1 spot, bringing the title back to US. Surely, that kind of success is long way off from where we are currently. In fact, Alan Mulally may not be taking a long-term role in Ford management. Back we go to Mark Fields. Fields is the main guy behind the new 'Way Forward' turn-around plan for North American Operations in Ford. After Mulally does or does not perform his magic on the company, Fields is right at the top of the list to take over as CEO. This will be especially true if the 'Way Forward' begins to make some progress with its long-term goals, job cuts, and plant shutdowns.
Ford is at a breaking point; the same breaking point they've been at for the past 5 years. They are continuing to pull in less and less profits (as is GM) while the large Japanese automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan continue to pull in record breaking profits. American automakers' problems aren't going to go away anytime soon. Quality reports continue to show the major Japanese auto manufacturers at the very top of the list every single year with little if not any improvement by the American brands. Something must be done, and quickly. Alan Mulally will have a lot of weight on his shoulders throughout the next 3-5 years and many of us Ford enthusiasts are hoping he can finally piece together the problems American car companies have been dealing with for the past 20-25 years.