2004 Ford F-150 Team Profiles
One of the biggest challenges Matt DeMars faced when he proudly ushered the all-new F-150 into production was nothing short of monumental.
"The leaders continue to lead," said DeMars. "We know truck buyers, and they know us. Customers expect us to lead. Our strategy is simple: Give them the products, technologies and features they want." Building on 25 years of best-selling history only serves as further inspiration as he bounces between a design studio, engineering labs and an office he rarely sees. As Executive Director of Tough Truck, he is responsible for the product development and launch of F-Series, Super Duty, Ranger and Econoline vehicle programs.
At 46, DeMars has achieved attention-getting engineering career with Ford Motor Company over nearly 25 years. Throughout his career he has developed a close relationship with the Ford F-Series from production to its presence in dealer showrooms.
Before he took on his current post in January 2002, DeMars was Director of Manufacturing for F-Series. In this position he oversaw the Norfolk, Kansas City, Ontario and Kentucky Truck plants.
When he isn't spending time with his two sons, he can be found in and around his latest project making sure the all-new F-150 is an absolute success. "The excitement from dealers and customers is addictive. The challenge to redefine America's truck provided us the opportunity to create sharper distinctions within its configurations and appeal more strongly to differing customer wants."
As a kid growing up in Clarkston, Mich., Frank Davis remembers having a blast going four-wheeling in his friend's Ford F-Series 4x4 truck in the hills and woods around his hometown. Little did he know then that he would not only go on to marry his high school sweetheart but that trucks like that 1975 F-Series would become a major part of his life.
Frank Davis is chief program engineer of the 2004 Ford F-150. He is ultimately responsible for the development of the new truck, taking it from a designer's dream to production reality. At Ford, responsibility for the nation's best-selling vehicle is no small task.
"This is my dream job," said Davis, renowned for the passion he brings to leading hundreds of skilled Ford product development personnel. "When you're an engineer in Ford Tough Trucks, your dream is to launch one of these great trucks."
In his 18th year at Ford, Davis has amassed a broad range of experience, including stints in heavy trucks, compact trucks and full-size pickups. He worked on the 1992 F-150, which reintroduced the Flareside model to the line-up. His latest creation "ups the ante" in the pickup world.
When asked which aspect of the new 2004 F-150 makes him most proud, he says "everything - the evolutionary styling, the revolutionary interior and the superior driving experience."
Davis and his wife, Laura, have two daughters and a son, ranging in age from 4 to 14. He's as passionate about coaching their sports teams as he is at the helm of a world-class Tough Truck engineering team.
"Trucks are my life," Davis said.
Patrick Schiavone doesn't miss much. "Anyone who's ever worked with me knows that the details are everything," says Schiavone, the dynamic Tough Truck Design Director.
"I am a perfectionist," says Schiavone, who is responsible for the next-generation models of the Ford F-Series, Ranger, Harley Davidson F-150 and future truck concepts. The opportunity to redesign the F-150 from the ground up has been the project of a lifetime.
"The 2004 F-150 is a modern interpretation of what 'Built Ford Tough' means - from the stance, to the surface language and detailing," Schiavone says. "It's a timeless design that will look great for years."
Schiavone was a wild child who grew up street racing in Akron, Ohio. "I'm ferociously competitive," he admits. Never satisfied with the ordinary, Schiavone spent many long hours customizing cars when he was in his teens.
Before taking on his current position, Schiavone was chief designer in the Truck studio, where he played a significant role in the design of the Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator and Blackwood. He has led the design of various concept vehicles, including the Mighty F-350 TONKA and Ford F-150 Lightning Rod. The 1994 Mustang, Contour show car and Focus are some of the other highlights of Schiavone's 14-year career at Ford.
"I'm very proud of the work we do here in the Tough Truck studio," says Schiavone. "We take our fun very seriously."
Philip Martens' intrinsic interest in automobiles began when he was just a kid building model cars. That obsessive attention to detail is cemented into the all-new F-150.
"F-150 is at the core of Ford's product-led revitalization," said Martens. As vice president, Ford Blue Oval Vehicle Programs and Engineering, he provided overall management direction to the F-150 team, particularly on the vehicle development side where he validated the team's driving dynamic, refinement and performance targets.
"Our focus was to deliver an outstanding product that people enjoy driving," said Martens, who is responsible for the product development of all Ford Blue Oval programs and North American Engineering. "We did just that with the F-150 and combined it with outstanding dependability. This is a real watershed product for Ford Motor Company."
Martens joined Ford Motor Company in 1986 as an intern and was hired the following year.
He was appointed manager of Small Car Vehicle Development in 1993 and later was named chief program engineer in Ford's Large and Luxury Car Vehicle Center. In 1998, he became chief engineer in Vehicle/Chassis Engineering, Small and Medium Car Vehicle Centre, in Europe, and played a lead role in the development of the award-winning Mondeo. In 1999, Martens joined Mazda Motor Corp., where he was managing director, Product Planning, Design and Product Development.
During the 25 years Doug Scott has worked in Ford's marketing organization, one thing has remained constant in America's automotive landscape: Ford trucks have been on top.
"Over the years, the Ford brand has made a very strong promise on toughness, and time and time again, we've delivered," says Scott, who remembers the company overtaking Chevrolet in truck leadership more than a quarter-century ago.
As the Truck Group marketing manager for Ford Division, Scott oversees all consumer marketing functions for the F-150, F-Series Super Duty and Ranger pickup trucks in the United States. Prior to assuming his current duties, he was the sport-utility vehicle marketing manager for Ford Division.
Scott's numerous field sales positions have given him an appreciation of the company's retail network, which he considers a primary competitive advantage. "Our dealers' tremendous understanding of the marketplace helped drive the new F-150's distinctive 'at-a-glance' series differentiation," says Scott.
"Only a handful of vehicles have changed the rules of the game," says Scott. "We did it with Taurus and Explorer, and with the 2004 F-150, we're doing it again. This truck has no competition."
Scott says he feels privileged to be one of the stewards of the Built Ford Tough brand. "My role is to keep that going, to build on the core strength, and extend this legacy of leadership."
Craig Metros is exhausted, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charged with overseeing the redesign of America's favorite pickup, Metros has one of the most exciting and demanding jobs in his field. "Designers do their best work when they're challenged, and it doesn't get more intense than this," says Metros, whose love of adventure extends to extreme sports, loud music and home renovation.
"I really enjoy putting my own twist on existing ideas," he says.
For the 2004 F-150, Metros and the design team put an emphasis on detail and sophistication. A well-balanced composition, solid proportions and outstanding execution also were a must. "That combination is the common thread for all good design - no matter if it's a truck, a chair or a building," says Metros.
Since joining Ford Motor Company's design team in 1986, Metros has been instrumental in concept and high-volume production programs in the United States and abroad. The Jaguar XJ8, Ford Galaxy and Ka are among some of the highlights of his career.
Following a three-year assignment in Japan as lead designer on the Ford Escape, Metros jumped at the chance to reinvent an American legend.
"The new F-150 is a strong, modern interpretation of 'Built Ford Tough' - very athletic and rugged, but refined," says Metros. "We've gone way beyond what customers expect a truck to be."
Jim Smithbauer knows the all-new F-150 inside and out. That's because he played a key role in the design of both its exterior and interior as the F-150 design manager responsible for appearance and craftsmanship.
"The interiors of this truck really elevate the standard in the pickup world," Smithbauer says. "The FX4 and Lariat will wow truck customers. Details like the flow-through console and the floor shifter will change people's expectations of comfort and refinement possible in a truck."
The instrument panel - vertical bands and round air vents - was created quite early in the truck's development stage. "I guess that was a 'eureka' moment," Smithbauer says, "because that gave us a lot of time to refine the themes and differentiate the series line-up."
Interior comfort is an unanswered need of pickup owners, according to the 32-year-old graduate of Detroit's College for Creative Studies.
"People are spending more and more time in their trucks these days both for work and personal use, but have just come to expect that they have to live with a basic interior. Our inspiration was that a truck can be comfortable but still be a Tough Truck."
Married with a 4-year-old son, Smithbauer's hobbies revolve around classic cars and trucks.
"I'm always going to car shows or tinkering with an old car," he says. "We've just bought a new house, so I had to scale back on my car stuff, but the new house has a bigger garage to fill!"
Dan Gompper likes surprises - just not while he's driving. That's why he's worked hard to make sure the new 2004 F-150 delivers exactly the kind of handling and performance its drivers expect.
"We want the driver to not have to think about how the truck is acting," says Gompper. "But the smooth ride may come as a surprise - a pleasant one. Combining controllability with a smooth ride was a real achievement."
As the F-150 vehicle dynamics supervisor, he oversaw tuning of the precise steering system, suspension and new outboard rear shocks to help the F-150 deliver - whether at low or higher speeds, empty or fully loaded, with or without trailer, on- or off-road.
Every dynamics engineer is a driving enthusiast, but Gompper wasn't about to sacrifice any aspect of the F-150's performance for the sake of sharp handling alone.
"A sports car handles well," he says, "but has very little cargo capability and never has to tow the family boat. The new F-150 is a strong all-around performer - with ride and handling that will surprise many people."
This holistic approach meant that the front control arm bushings and the wider rear springs are equally important to the total package. The new outboard rear shocks are perhaps the most obvious improvement to the casual observer, but there are a host of changes under the skin.
Gompper gained his expertise from a decade of work at Ford on advanced chassis simulations, durability testing and systems integration. He was part of the chassis design team for the Expedition and joined the F-150 program in its nascent stages.
Pete Dowding is always ready to get up to his elbows in engines - after all, that's how he started with Ford Motor Company 25 years ago.
Dowding, manager of V-8/V-10 modular engines for Ford Motor Company, began his career with Ford in a very hands-on role, as a craft apprentice at the Ford trade school first as a pattern maker, then as a machine tool fitter.
"At that time, I didn't fully understand the intricacies of what goes into a car, but I got a very good grounding in fundamental mechanics," Dowding says. "I've never lost my love for the inner workings of a great engine."
That interest paid dividends when Dowding oversaw development of the F-150's innovative new 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton engine, which matches the latest electronics to a well-designed combustion chamber.
In order to advance from apprentice to engineer, Dowding attended South Bank University in London one day per week - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. - for four years on his own time. He worked his way up through a series of engine programs, including a stint at Ford's Center of Excellence for In Line Engines at Dunton in England before coming to Dearborn.
"If you're a car person, this is the center of the universe," Dowding says. "I guess there's still a bit of the Englishman in me, though - I still play soccer and I coach my 17-year-old son's elite premier travel team."
Dowding and his wife also have a 15-year-old daughter.
Powertrain engineering manager Harold Lowman has a garage full of legendary Ford engines - a 428-cubic inch V-8 in his 1970 Mustang, a 1961 Thunderbird with the 390 V-8 and a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger, with a 289 small block V-8 stuffed into its compact engine compartment.
"You can tell I'm a motor guy," he jokes.
Lowman also has worked on fine-tuning some of Ford's most storied engines in his 30 years with the company - including the 351 Cleveland and the big 460- cubic-inch V-8.
Now he's bringing Ford's newest engine to market in the 2004 F-150.
Is the 5.4-liter, 3-valve Triton™ V-8 another legend in the making?
"It's got the power - quiet power," Lowman says. "All of the customer interfaces are very seamless. Due to our electronic capability, the engine works very well with the improved transmission, balancing performance feel with economy, smooth shifting and sound quality."
In a product development process that is more team-focused than ever, you might say Lowman's team has one foot on the new F-150's throttle pedal, fine-tuning the powertrain, and the other on the plant floor, assuring that production is as smooth and efficient as the new engine.
Lowman helped to launch the previous generation F-150, and has so much respect for that truck that he bought a 1997 F-150 SuperCab, which remains his daily driver.
He's already sizing up the 2004 F-150 as his next set of wheels.
"We're taking the truck experience to a whole different level," he says.
Chris Kolarik puts a damper on things. Literally. As Vehicle NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) Supervisor for the 2004 F-150, he is responsible for delivering a quiet vehicle interior by muting road, wind and powertrain noise to meet strict customer requirements.
His adventures in engineering took him out to sea before he began his career at Ford. After receiving his Bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and a Master's degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Kolarik applied his mechanical engineering education to coercing hulking nuclear-powered submarines. He was responsible for making the underwater machines quiet from 1983 to 1990 while he was a sound and vibration engineer at General Dynamics in the Electric Boat Division.
Kolarik has been with the 2004 F-150 program since March 2000. "My most rewarding experience has been working with a passionate team to make important design decisions," said Kolarik. The decisions the team made positively affected the product from the shape of the mirrors to reduce wind noise, isolation of the cab to reduce road and engine noise and even the tuning of the air in-take system. When taken as a whole, the changes provide a more pleasant and powerful engine sound.
A dedicated man by nature, he prides himself on being able to deliver a product at a level the customer demands. Kolarik delivers on promises, most importantly those he makes to his wife and two daughters who enjoy figure skating, soccer and going to their cottage on the lake.
Anthony Selley is a master juggler - of tasks.
Selley is the supervisor responsible for the all-new hydroformed and fully boxed frame of the new 2004 Ford F-150. Not only does the frame form the structural "backbone" of the truck - tying the powertrain, the body and the suspension together - it must be tailored to each attached system and also weight-efficient and cost-effective.
"The frame is the most cross-functional component of a truck," Selley says. "Juggling these multiple demands - and ultimately delivering a frame that exceeds on all counts - is the most demanding and rewarding part of my job."
Selley, 36, has led an equally cross-functional career. Prior to the F-150 program he served in the Product Strategy Office as a cycle planner, balancing 10-year product plans for all Ford Motor Company brands.
"I was exposed to the highest level of the company for nearly three years," Selley says, "and learned to manage dozens of criteria simultaneously."
Before the planning position, Selley was program manager for the South American Ranger, a heavy-duty compact pickup with a four-door cab and diesel engine. He was the lead steering engineer for the current F-150, and worked on the team that designed the original Expedition chassis.
Increasing the F-150 frame stiffness nine-fold and engineering exceptional offset crash performance while balancing all those other priorities wasn't easy, but Selley shrugs off the pressure.
"The workload was intense," Selley says, "but this is the program to be on."
Julie Kurcz knows what it takes to be Built Ford Tough.
As vehicle engineering manager, Kurcz has made a wide-ranging contribution to the new F-150. Unlike engineers who are highly specialized, Kurcz's perspective is of the total vehicle as a system. Her broad responsibilities include crafting F-150's vehicle dynamics, engineering measures against noise, vibration and harshness to give the new F-150 its quiet, comfortable ride, and assuring integration of vehicle systems, not just from an engineering point of view.
"I like to think that I'm the voice of the customer within the engineering team," said Kurcz, an 18-year Ford veteran and recent newlywed.
Hers is a demanding role that sometimes involves demanding conditions.
"We do a tremendous amount of testing in all kinds of terrain," Kurcz said. "We do that to prove that F-150 delivers on all the Tough Truck strengths whether it's four-wheeling, trailering, hauling or just everyday driving."
Kurcz is at home in the most rugged of testing conditions. She calls off-road testing in the new F-150 'a real kick.'
"This is a phenomal truck, and I'm incredibly proud of the driving experience it's going to give our customers," she said.
Kurcz and her new husband enjoy boating and are building their own second home on a Michigan lake.
Matt Niesluchowski, 38, began his automotive safety career in the pre-air bag days - just barely.
He joined Ford Motor Company in 1987 after graduating from Oakland University with a degree in electrical engineering. His first project involved working on air bag components prior to their introduction in the Lincoln Continental in 1988.
"I was there for the primary launch of driver's side air bags in 1989," Niesluchowski says. "and by 1996, we had also added passenger air bags to most of our vehicles."
Along the way, Niesluchowski developed and patented a key-operated deactivation switch for passenger-side air bags in pickup trucks. He's also been heavily involved in electronic crash sensing, dynamic sensing technologies and advanced restraints.
One of the occupational hazards in the crash safety business is that you tend to notice the hazards of daily life. "Whenever I pass a fender-bender or a more serious accident, I always look - did the air bags deploy? Were they wearing safety belts?" Niesluchowski says.
Niesluchowski and his wife of 15 years love to travel - whether for golf, skiing, water sports or just sightseeing.
In a business dedicated to designing and building great vehicles, it may seem strange to spend a good part of your time smashing them into immovable objects. "My friends are just astounded that we might crash five or 10 valuable prototype vehicles in a week," Niesluchowski says. "But it all helps to build a better truck in the end."
Michelle Chaka has a very personal relationship with future customers of the 2004 F-150. It's her job to protect them from harm.
The truck crash safety analyst has worked to develop the leading-edge safety systems that are poised to spring into action if any F-150 is ever involved in a crash.
For the first time in a truck, the new F-150 factors passenger weight and safety belt use to tailor air bag deployment under Ford's leading Personal Safety System™. The driver also gets a tailored deployment strategy.
As a result, Chaka says, "The F-150 is one of the safest vehicles on the road."
Chaka is proud that Ford's holistic approach to safety will help the new 2004 F-150 become the company's first vehicle to meet the stringent new federal FMVSS 208 requirements, which regulates occupant protection in a variety of crash modes.
"Another cool thing is that the safety features do not dominate the style or function of the vehicle," Chaka says. "For example, the passenger airbag seams blend into the instrument panel, so you would never know it was there until you needed it."
It's only natural for Chaka to see vehicle safety as an art. After all, she considered life as an artist before switching to an engineering career.
While she still enjoys painting, she and her husband live an F-150 lifestyle, even taking the family dog along for fishing and camping trips every chance they get.