Ford adds new post: Chief strategy officer
Ex-vice president Blythe will fill role
September 12, 2003
Ford Motor Co. named Bruce Blythe to the new post of chief strategy officer, the latest company veteran brought back to help CEO and Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. run the world's second-largest automaker.
Blythe, 58, a former architect of the company's European business strategy, will report to Ford, 46, who is trying to return the automaker to profitability in 2003 after $6.4 billion of losses the past two years.
Ford is relying on more seasoned businessmen as he tries to reverse market-share losses to Asian automakers and bigger U.S. rival General Motors Corp. He refers to the group, which includes 69-year-old Vice Chairman Allan Gilmour, as his "grumpy old men."
Blythe "knows the personality and culture of Ford," said Maryann Keller, an independent auto analyst. Blythe may be able to "see through the clutter better than someone who's looking for their next advancement," she said.
Blythe worked for Ford from 1968 to 1993, when he stepped down as vice president of business strategy for the company in Europe, the company said. Since 1993, Blythe has been a personal adviser to the chairman, said spokesman Oscar Suris.
Ford Motor Co. also named Joe Greenwell president of its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands, effective Oct. 1. Greenwell, 52, replaces Bob Dover, 57, who is to retire.
Greenwell's appointment comes as Ford expects its luxury brands, including Jaguar and Land Rover, to contribute one-third of profits by 2005. Jaguar lost $500 million last year after its new all-aluminum XJ sedan was delayed a year.
Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford's Volvo unit want to reduce spending by sharing parts within similar brands. Greenwell faces the challenge of maintaining the images of Jaguar and Land Rover while cutting costs, said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at Global Insight Inc., which forecasts auto sales.
Gilmour returned to a full-time post last year, and the chairman has hired retired executives to advise him on projects. Ford brought in Neal Ressler, a former vice president and chief technical officer, as a con******t for its new GT sports car.
Ford also turned to Carl Reichardt, 72, a company director and a former CEO of Wells Fargo & Co., to be vice chairman overseeing Ford Motor Credit Co., which makes loans to vehicle buyers and accounts for most of the company's earnings. Reichardt served as vice chairman from October 2001 until Aug. 1.
Many of the veteran executives "have been through tough times before," said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group Inc. in Ann Arbor. "Certainly Ford is looking to proven veterans who've been in the trenches and who have been successful."
The automaker also promoted human resources chief Joe Laymon to group vice president, the first African-American to achieve that rank, and Anne Stevens, to group vice president for Canada, Mexico and South America, the company's first first female group vice president.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....