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Ford shakes up management after giving a dreadful outlook

Discussion in 'Road Side Pub' started by VRYALT3R3D, Feb 7, 2020.

  1. VRYALT3R3D

    VRYALT3R3D Well-Known Member Established Member

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    FORD’S HIGHWAY TO HELL.
    [​IMG]MONDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2020 AT 08:51AM
    By Peter M. DeLorenzo

    Detroit. (posted 2/7, 3:00 p.m.) "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

    No, Charles Dickens didn’t write about the automobile industry, but he might as well have, as the Sturm und Drang and the semi-controlled chaos that are now part and parcel of everyday life in this industry have become magnified with each passing month.

    And nowhere is this more on display than at the Ford Motor Company. That Ford has fallen into a kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde swirling maelstrom of contradictory forces is no big secret. On the one hand, Ford is limned as a train station rehabbing, AI deal-making, Mustang Mach-E-purveying, F150-churning benevolent American icon. This is the Shiny Happy Ford, the car company brimming with indefatigable spirit and with roots that go back to the very beginnings of the auto business in this country.

    That this version of the Ford image is carefully crafted and honed to a polished degree is no accident; this is the preferred image for the Ford Motor Company that chairman Bill Ford Jr. not only wants to portray but one that he believes in with all of his heart. And Ford lives up to that ideal in terms of the countless examples of financial support the company gives to the greater Detroit community. That is to be commended and is truly appreciated by the denizens of the Motor City.

    But as I indicated, there are two sides to this story. Though Ford operates as Benevolence Inc. and wears its heart on its sleeve while doing so, the company can’t control everything in terms of image and the burgeoning reality of how outsiders view the company.

    And the news from Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn early this morning didn’t help. Was it shocking? Oh, maybe for 30 seconds or so, but then again, it really wasn’t a surprise at all. Ford president Joe Hinrichs was being “retired” - at 53 – and Jim Farley was named Chief Operating Officer for the company by CEO Jim Hackett. That Hinrichs was forced out – taking the fall for the company’s dismal fourth quarter financial performance – was no secret, and the fact that Farley had become Ford’s new “golden boy” had already been telegraphed by a series of puff pieces in the media for going on well over a year now. This was after Bill Ford told me four years ago that Farley and Hinrichs "represented the future of the company."

    More on Ford’s heir apparent in a minute, but before I get into that, the most pressing question must be asked: Why did Hackett, who presided over the near-cataclysmic financial results that rocked Wall Street, keep his job? I have been waiting for the Hackett miracle to come to fruition for three very long years now, but Ford’s in-house “Professor Moon Beam” has failed to impress at every turn.

    Why does Bill Ford persist in sticking with Hackett? Well, to his credit - or detriment - depending on how you look at it, Bill is loyal to a fault to people he believes in and trusts. Take Alan Mulally, for instance. Bill Ford had absolute confidence in Mulally, and Alan didn’t disappoint, delivering results and profitability while working diligently to fix the “behind the curtain” parts of the business that aren’t glamorous but are so desperately crucial to a company’s success.

    Bill Ford didn’t want Mulally to leave and why would he? Bill slept easier knowing Alan was at the helm. After Mulally declined to stay on any longer, Bill channeled his beliefs into who he hoped would be Ford’s next savior, his friend Jim Hackett, an executive who brought a resume to the table that on the surface had nothing to do with running a giant auto conglomerate. Bill Ford alighted on Jim Hackett - who ran Steelcase furniture, with stops at the University of Michigan and in Silicon Valley thrown in for good measure - to be his new “Alan,” or hoped he would be at any rate.

    Except it hasn’t worked out nearly as well as he’d hoped. Hackett marked his first year by making esoteric pronouncements on what organizations need and how Ford employees could do better at just being. And while Hackett was busying himself with lectures to the employees and the media on how organizations should run, the people who actually designed, engineered and produced the products were working diligently to keep Ford in the game. After Hackett’s first year of nothingness - and Wall Street’s growing impatience waiting for the “new” Ford - Hackett embarked on the now time-honored industry strategy to reduce costs within Ford with a scorched-earth ruthlessness, endearing himself to exactly no one.

    But the biggest issue Wall Street has is that the professorial, touchy-feely Hackett talks around and around, suggesting the best ways for things to happen, and the way everyone should feel while things are happening, but in true “I’ve-been-lost-on-campus-so-long-I-have-grown-completely-irrelevant-and-out-of-touch” fashion, he is nothing more than an expert air salesman at this juncture. And as we well know – or at least you should know by now – selling air counts for exactly zero in this business. “Selling Air” is the modern-day sequel to the Emperor’s New Clothes, and it’s much ado about nothing because, well, it’s much ado about nothing. So, as much as I loathe the calculated fleecing that’s part of Wall Street’s relentless M.O., the professional scammers there understand when they’re being broadcast to by an air seller, and they don’t much cotton to it. I don’t either.

    Now this has nothing to do about whether Hackett is a decent guy or not, because by all accounts he is, but it has everything to do with the projected image of the Ford Motor Company beyond this region. Here, we accept the fact that Ford does good things for the community, but “out there” in the real – and ever hard-core – investor world, it’s all about “what have you done for us lately?” And Jim Hackett talking about how things are going to be and how we should all feel while these things are happening understandably leaves everyone cold.

    And now, at the end of Hackett’s third year in charge, Ford has suffered major screwups with its product launches and recalls, the company’s regions across the globe are in disarray – especially in China, which is Ford’s recurring nightmare – and the company just delivered a devastating quarter of bad news that has the industry talking and Wall Street-types shaking their heads. Tell me again why Hackett isn’t being shown the door? Oh, right, there’s that loyalty to a fault thing, and in this case it’s to the Ford Motor Company’s detriment.

    The High-Octane Truth is that Hackett just doesn’t have the depth and breadth of experience to make a real difference at Ford. And right now, the one thing Ford desperately needs more than anything else is a chief executive who understands this business inside and out and can guide Ford through perilous waters. But that is neither here nor there at this juncture. The reality is that Joe Hinrichs got fired, and Jim Farley is now the heir apparent to replace Hackett whenever Bill Ford decides that his loyalty oath has reached its “sell-by” date.

    And what are we to make of Jim Farley? As I said in the beginning, the rise of Jim Farley was almost preordained when he was brought back from Europe three years ago. But who is Jim Farley, anyway? Let’s review, shall we? He is the former Toyota wunderkind who was responsible for the launch of the Scion brand, and who was brought in by Alan Mulally to be Chief Marketing Officer way back when.

    And not unexpectedly, his debut at Ford didn’t exactly get off to an auspicious start. Farley didn’t waste any time transforming himself into an enfant terrible right out of the gate. Displaying a prodigiously short attention span and burdened by an excruciatingly painful interpersonal awkwardness, Farley’s belligerent, condescending style of dealing with underlings, along with his classic “parachute in, helicopter out” M.O. - which has defined bad actor executives for decades in this business - became his calling card. Internally, Farley became known as "The Two Jims" and interactions with him became a crapshoot, hinging upon whether people encountered the "good" Jim or the "bad" Jim on any given day. Needless to say, when the "bad" Jim was unleashed, Farley left a trail of bad feelings and highly questionable decisions in his wake.

    Farley has long considered himself to be “the smartest guy in the room” at Ford, much to everyone’s endless chagrin, because the reality is that he isn’t. It’s a carefully crafted façade that is hollow to its core. Farley’s bad executive behavior starts with his inability to listen, considering his own counsel to be by far the best source when it comes to decision making. And because of that, as well as a host of other annoyances, Farley left such a bitter taste in people’s mouths that when he was shipped off to run Ford of Europe several years ago the overwhelming sense of relief internally at Ford was palpable.

    Blissfully unaware that he was universally loathed back in Dearborn, Farley seized upon his assignment in Europe, seeing it as a stepping stone to the executive suite at Ford. And the planets were aligned for him to come off as a hero there, too, because the European market had been in the doldrums for so long that the only way it could go was up. Steve Odell, who had been running Ford of Europe and had done all of the heavy lifting by closing plants and laying off people, set the table for Farley to succeed. And the inevitable happened, as Ford’s fortunes recovered in Europe along with the overall market. Farley took advantage of the opportunity and made sure all of the execs back in Dearborn could see what a genius he was, and unfortunately, too many fell for it.

    And when Mark Fields was jettisoned from the company, not only did Bill Ford bring in Hackett, he brought Farley back from Europe and made Joe Hinrichs and Farley co-No. 2 executives reporting to Hackett. It proved to be a fateful decision, because at that very moment Farley decided that he was very much going to be The Guy.

    An emboldened Farley, unfettered by rational thought and untethered by accountability, turned out – predictably – to be disastrous. With his eyes set firmly on Hackett’s job, the very worst of Farley returned to Ford headquarters, only now his most repugnant qualities were magnified and amplified, with no one seemingly able to rein him in.

    Besides his now-signature belligerence and rudeness in full view, Farley started to get out ahead of his skis, making decisions that were puzzling at best and potentially harmful to the long-term health of the company. Having been gunning for Ford’s advertising agency – the WPP-owned GTB – for years for slights both real and imagined, Farley almost immediately put the massive Ford account up for review. This, after WPP/GTB had been involved with Ford for 73 years. Could the advertising be improved? Certainly. And there's a way to do that. But destroying a long, fruitful relationship to assuage Farley’s gargantuan ego was flat-out irresponsible and uncalled for.

    Farley also commandeered company appearances in front of financial analysts, something completely beyond his ken, thinking that if he demonstrated his acumen there he would gain favor with Bill Ford and the board. And true to form, this proved to be a total disaster as well. Industry analysts are still talking about Farley’s cringeworthy performance at a Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference here in Detroit several years ago, where he came off as being someone who was flippant, woefully ill-prepared and not ready for prime time, and consequently Ford came off poorly too. Do you wonder why Ford can’t gain any traction on Wall Street? Farley’s dismal performance that night didn't do the company any favors.

    Am I picking on Farley? Hardly. I have only scratched the surface in describing this egomaniacal character and his blatant power grab, and now that he has been given the reins and deemed to be the heir apparent, he could wreak havoc on the company’s future for years. And this simply shouldn’t be, of course. One bad actor shouldn’t be causing this much consternation and hand-wringing throughout the enterprise, threatening to jeopardize everything the Ford Motor Company stands for.

    The only good part of Ford’s announcement today was that Hau Thai Tang – Ford’s Product Chief – will still be a factor. That Thai Tang is extremely talented and capable, and one of the best and brightest at Ford is indisputable. In fact, he should be the future of the company, not Farley.

    As I said earlier, Ford PR has been working overtime on pumping up Jim Farley’s image for well over a year now. It has been a charm offensive - or should it be smarm offensive - that has known no bounds. In fact, reading some of these stories, the uninformed might think that Farley walks on water, possesses the riveting intellect that occupies a space in the stratosphere beyond mere mortals, has never put a wheel wrong in his entire career, and is now solidly in the discussion to replace Jim Hackett when "Professor Moon Beam" wanders off into the sunset. These pieces were designed to portray a wonderfully benign Farley, an executive whose rise has no perceptible limit, and whose enduring warmth is something that people crave to bask in. This latest "humanization" campaign of Farley is unmitigated bullshit - and it has nothing to do with the "real" Jim Farley - the one hordes of people at Ford have grown to loathe with a seething level of disgust that is palpable.

    This announcement from Ford makes me fear for the very future of the company. In fact, the company has embarked on a Highway to Hell. I think Ford has five years – tops – to make it. And I am not optimistic. At that juncture the family could very well be forced to make a deal to sell the company, or have their share significantly reduced in some sort of orchestrated takeover. That’s how dire I view this situation to be.

    Because when everything is factored in, Jim Farley is simply the wrong person, at the wrong time, at the wrong car company.

    FORD’S HIGHWAY TO HELL. - Rants - Autoextremist.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth...
     
  2. Thorpz

    Thorpz Well-Known Member Premium Member Established Member

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    Three Step Plan
    Step One. Hire people who actually like cars.
    Step Two. Fire all the "educated" morons who look at a car like they look at a refrigerator... see step one.
    Step Three. Stop the use focus groups to design cars ... group 1 likes this and group 2 likes that and group 3 likes the other thing.. this is why you end up with homogenized crap...... see step one.
    I will take my payment in Ford stock... thanks... hah
     
  3. specracer

    specracer SVTOA MCA Premium Member

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    Or more specifically, office furniture, vs refrigerators

     
  4. 98 svt

    98 svt Premium Member Premium Member Established Member

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    Step 1: Collect underpants
    Step 2:?
    Step 3: Profit
     
  5. me32

    me32 BEASTLY SHELBY GT500 TVS Moderator

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    When you think things cant get any worse for Ford. They go and prove us all wrong.
     
  6. DBK

    DBK Re-retired Established Member

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    There are two easily identifiable ways to right the ship instantly. One will never happen, the other is now clearly indefinitely delayed.
     
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  7. IA Shelby

    IA Shelby Well-Known Member Established Member

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    I would rather take 88yr old Bob Lutz for a couple of years.
     
  8. 95Cobra_Iowa

    95Cobra_Iowa Member Established Member

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    Hinrichs is a definite loss. He's a smart car guy and will be missed at Ford.
     
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  9. VRYALT3R3D

    VRYALT3R3D Well-Known Member Established Member

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    Here is his final letter to his staff:


    Automotive Leadership Team,

    It was just over eight months ago when we all came back together as one automotive team. The organization to be one again so the business units and skill teams could work together to serve our employees, customers and shareholders. In those quick eight months we accomplished a lot together, starting with re-instituting a governance process that helped us run the company better with more visibility and a shared sense of purpose (BPR/ASM/SAR).


    We concluded the investment in Rivian, literally stealing it away from GM in the last days. We took a leadership stand on climate change and, after unsuccessful attempts to bring California and the White House together, forged our own path forward with a fuel economy agreement with CARB. We helped the USMCA agreement finally come to life. We worked in the background to help the US and China finally find common ground on trade.

    We worked through a very difficult and costly launch of the Explorer and Aviator in Chicago. We then successfully launched Escape/Corsair in Louisville, Transit in Kansas City, Super Duty in Kentucky Truck Plant and OHAP, Puma in Craiova, Territory BEV in Nanchang, and recently Kuga (Valencia) and Escape (Chongqing). The painful lessons learned from the Explorer/Aviator launch will serve the company well in the future – including this year when you will launch so many great new products and really start to introduce the power of connected vehicles with the F-150 and Mustang Mach-E launches.

    We watched the UAW strike GM for six weeks at a cost of over three billion dollars, and then reached a better deal with our partners in the UAW in just two days ourselves. We worked through the planned closure of Bridgend and closed our plant in Sao Bernardo. We worked together through the Smart Redesign process to reshape the management structure of our company and significantly reduce our salaried costs. We watched the Manufacturing and IT teams, working with all skill teams, design the Factory of Tomorrow.

    We delivered dramatic restructuring in Europe and South America. We formed the International Markets Group (IMG). We developed a new strategic plan for our business in China. We finalized and announced the global alliance with Volkswagen and the joint venture with Mahindra in India.

    We delivered record profits from our global FCSD team. We launched many Customer Experience pilots globally and started to build momentum in changing the Ford culture in focusing on the customer journey wheel. We started down the important journey to implement ERP systems in our company worldwide. We started to bring the power of the new Enterprise Product Line Management (EPLM) to life …

    We watched JD Power place both the Ford and Lincoln brands in the top five of the US Initial Quality Study for the first time … and then received more JD Power APEAL awards than anyone else. We finally started to see the powertrain warranty cost curves start to bend down in the last few months … with more to come.

    We came together in early January, 2020 and committed to each other that we would all work together to make this a great year. We openly discussed the reasons why we have missed our plan for four straight years … and then went out and started major initiatives to make a difference, from new material cost targets, business unit sprints and offsites, and a renewed energy toward our sales commitments.

    I am proud of how the team came together this year to change the performance of the company. Globally, we beat the sales program in January for the first time in a long time. We used to talk about Profitable Growth for All. The plans over the last three years, combined with the dramatic collapse of our sales in China after we had built such a strong business, have delivered significant losses in global volume and market share. We started to talk about how we can grow the company again. This discussion has to continue.

    As the company moves forward today, I want to reach out and thank you for all that we have done in these eight short months. There were stumbles, but there were many more successes. The most important thing we do as leaders is create an environment for our people to be successful – providing clarity of direction and priorities, resources and help when they need it, and support for them as teammates. It is always about Working Together as One Ford team. Leadership is about service to others. Please never forget that.

    We are so proud of the work all of you do in the community. Ford's community giving is unlike any other company. That is a testament to the culture and the employees. I was so honored to lead the United Way campaign for Southeast Michigan which raised over $47M for our community last year. There are so many other examples … please keep this commitment to service and community front and center in the future.

    Many of you know that I personally fought for nearly a decade to get Bronco back into the Ford portfolio. In fact, after we showed the Bronco concept in 2004 it was clear there was customer demand for this product. We finally were able to add the Bronco and the small off-road utility product in the 2015 cycle plan as we headed to UAW negotiations that year. This year you get to launch those great products. I will be proudly watching as that finally happens.

    Thanks again for all the support, teamwork, and friendship. You know I am always here to help you if I can.

    I do have one last request. Please pass this note along to your teams and all our wonderful Ford employees as I unfortunately will not get the chance to say thanks myself. To each and every employee at Ford Motor Company – thank you for all your love and support. It has been an honor to serve with you.

    Good luck. Keep in touch.

    Thanks.

    JOE
     
  10. svtfocus2cobra

    svtfocus2cobra Opprimere, Velocitas, Violentia Operandi Established Member

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    Sounds like Hinrichs should have been the one moving up to CEO and the other two asses shown the door.
     
  11. ON D BIT

    ON D BIT Finish First Established Member

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    Get rid of the only qualified one that can take your job....
     
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  12. VRYALT3R3D

    VRYALT3R3D Well-Known Member Established Member

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    Imo, Hau Thai-Tang would be the best internal person for CEO. Above Hinrichs.
     
  13. tistan

    tistan Well-Known Member Established Member

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    "We took a leadership stand on climate change and, after unsuccessful attempts to bring California and the White House together, forged our own path forward with a fuel economy agreement with CARB."

    Maybe he and Ford should have concentrated on making cars based on what people want instead worrying about producing shitcans for a made up climate religion.
     
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  14. SSSSSSSSSSSSVT

    SSSSSSSSSSSSVT Well-Known Member Established Member

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    This t
    this times 1000. IMO the leadership at Ford has bet on the wrong horse and until they get their heads out of their asses they are going to continue to keep losing. Start making cars YOUR customers want and CAN AFFORD! Stop building holier than thou crap! Can’t wait to see the Mach E crash and burn.
     
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  15. RedRocketMike

    RedRocketMike A Member Well Known Established Member

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    Looks like that article was pulled down! I saved it
     
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  16. IronSnake

    IronSnake Beers for the boys Established Member

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    Here's the problem I see coming.

    Millennials/upcoming generations don't want Full-size trucks in the same capacity their parents did. Couple that with inevitability of gasoline prices rising, and you will have declining full size everything sales.

    And since Ford appears to have put all their eggs in that basket, it's clear they know it's a bad thing. Maybe the changes will provide a vein of common sense to the brand. People are moving back to cities. City cars are becoming more and more important. As are fleet/rental/cab/uber/lyft cars. If they aren't in that market, they're missing out tremendously.
     
  17. BOOGIE MAN

    BOOGIE MAN Logic and Reason Established Member

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    Half of the truck problem is the "midsize" trucks are what full size trucks were ten years ago, that plus (like someone has already said) the ranger is too expensive for fleet

    Sent from my SM-N975U using the svtperformance.com mobile app
     
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  18. specracer

    specracer SVTOA MCA Premium Member

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  19. me32

    me32 BEASTLY SHELBY GT500 TVS Moderator

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    Yup this, he may have been his own worst in enemy in losing his job.
     
  20. Bandit5.4

    Bandit5.4 Slow driver Established Member

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    I hate saying it, but if the new Bronco doesn't blow me away, my next new truck will be a Ram.
     
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