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Mulally’s Departure the Worst-Kept Secret in Detroit

Bill Ford offers praise for CEOs old and new.

by on May.01, 2014

Despite an outside search, few expected Ford to turn to anyone but Mark Fields as its next CEO.

It was, arguably, the worst-kept secret in Detroit, but even when Ford issued an early morning news alert, an advisory to attend a session at its suburban headquarters, it wasn’t ready to confirm what almost everyone already knew: CEO Alan Mulally would be retiring, his replacement to be current Ford COO Mark Fields.

That isn’t to say there weren’t a few unknowns that had Detroit’s automotive news corps racing to “Glass House,” as the Ford office tower is known. For one thing, when would the transition take place – and would it result in a shake-up among the rest of Ford’s management team.

In the Know!

In fact, Mulally acknowledged he would be leaving earlier than he had signaled previously, July 1, rather than waiting for the end of the year. But the 53-year-old Fields was getting the job he seemed destined for after being named chief operating officer in late 2012.

“I know this isn’t exactly a well kept secret,” said Ford Chairman Bill Ford Jr., who said he was  pleased that the company could move forward with  a smooth leadership transition.


Ford CEO Mulally to Retire July 1, Fields Named New CEO

Maker promises “orderly succession.”

by on May.01, 2014

Retiring Ford CEO Alan Mulally poses with the 2015 remake of the Mustang.

Promising an “orderly succession,” Ford today confirmed recent, widespread rumors that CEO Alan Mulally would be retiring, his successor to be the maker’s current Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields.

A former Boeing sensior executive, Mulally has won widespread praise during his eight-years at “Glass House,” Ford’s headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. His One Ford strategy has been credited with helping the once-struggling automaker avoid the bankruptcy filings forced on cross-town rivals General Motors and Ford during the depths of the nation’s Great Recession. Fields, in turn, has been seen as the man that helped put Mulally’s strategy in play.

Breaking News!

From the first day we discussed Ford’s transformation eight years ago, Alan and I agreed that developing the next generation of leaders and ensuring an orderly CEO succession were among our highest priorities,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford – great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford — said. “Mark has transformed several of our operations around the world into much stronger businesses during his 25 years at Ford. Now, Mark is ready to lead our company into the future as CEO.”


Mulally Named “CEO of the Year”

"The foresight showed."

by on Jun.28, 2011

Ford boss Alan Mulally is named CEO of the Year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has been judged by a jury of his peers – and declared “2011 Chief Executive of the Year.”

Credited with guiding the second-largest of Detroit’s hometown makers to an unexpectedly strong turnaround since joining the company in autumn 2006, Mulally was honored by CEO Magazine, which collected nominations from its 147,000 readers.  The former Boeing executive joins an elite group that previously included former Microsoft boss Bill Gates, GE’s Jack Welch and Southwest Airlines’ Herb Kelleher.

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“The success he showed in the face of incredible difficulty was just extraordinary,” said James Turley, a member of the award selection committee and himself chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.  “The foresight,” Turley added, “showed.”

Other members of the committee included chief executives from companies including Office Depot and MetLife.


Ford Profits Likely to Top $8 billion

Will big numbers lead to confrontation when workers return to bargaining table?

by on Jan.24, 2011

Ford CEO Alan Mulally is expected to announce total 2010 profits of $8 billion later this week.

Hoping to build its reputation with environmentally-minded motorists, Ford Motor Co. put a spotlight on battery power during this year’s Detroit Auto Show, unveiling models like the plug-in C-Max Energi microvan.  But later this week, Ford CEO Alan Mulally will focus on a different sort of green.

If all holds according to the expectations of Wall Street analysts, the maker is expected to announce that its profits for 2010 came to a total of $8 billion, the biggest number the maker has seen in a decade.  That figure is all the more significant since it came during one of the worst years the industry has experienced since the Great Depression, rather than at a time when U.S. car sales were running at or near record levels.

Profit From!

But there could be a downside to the big profit.  Ford, like its Detroit Three brethren, is getting ready to return to the bargaining table with the United Autoworkers Union.  The last time they hammered out a contract, in 2007, the union agreed to make major changes, and more followed during the downturn, including the creation of an employee-owned health program and the addition of a two-tier wage structure.


Ford’s Mulally Becomes High-Tech Guru…?

From aero to auto to high-tech.

by on Oct.08, 2010

Ford CEO Alan Mulally speaks in Paris. He'll soon handle keynote duties at the CES show.

If Alan Mulally decides he’s had enough of the auto industry he could find a new career in high-tech.

The former Boeing chief, now Ford Motor Co. CEO, has been tapped for the third year in a row to serve as keynote speaker at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which will be held in Las Vegas, next January.

That makes Mulally one of the few speakers ever to three-peat at the event, a short list that until now only included Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

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Mulally will be joined, at CES, by Rupert Stadler, the CEO of Germany’s Audi AG, which recently emphasized its push into electric and electronic technologies with the eTron Spyder concept vehicle, which debuted at this month’s Paris Motor Show.

“This will be the most auto-centric show yet,” said CES President Gary Shapiro.  The annual event is the largest convention held in Las Vegas and typically attracts more than 100,000 visitors.


Mulally: How Less Will Mean More When Ford Cuts Nameplate Count

by on Sep.30, 2010

Fewer nameplates but more product, says Ford CEO Alan Mulally.

While Ford Motor Co. will slash by as much as a third the number of individual nameplates it offers around the world, consumers will likely have more, rather than less products to choose from, said the maker’s CEO Alan Mulally, following the unveiling of the all-new Ford Focus at a Paris Motor Show preview.

The former Boeing executive spoke with to clarify comments made during a speech in London, earlier this week, in which Mulally outlined plans to continue the ongoing cutback in Ford’s product count as it sharpens its focus on its core brands.

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Since joining the company, just four years ago, Mulally has reduced the number of nameplates in the Ford stable from 97 to 37, so far largely by selling off European luxury brands Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo.  But the cuts won’t stop there.


Ford Competitive Despite Higher Debt, Other Issues

CEO promises to continue improving competitive position.

by on Apr.02, 2010

Ford "is competitive" despite a hefty debt load and an inability to match the concessions given GM and Chrysler, said CEO Alan Mulally.

Ford Motor Co. is fully competitive with its domestic rivals, and indeed with the rest of the auto industry, the automaker’s CEO Alan Mulally, tells, despite its hefty debt load and its inability to win all the concessions it has sought from its U.S. workers.

There’s little doubt Ford is on a roll, industry analysts praising the efforts Mulally has made since joining the company, in 2006, and consumers responding well to the company’s latest product line-up.  But those analysts also caution that there’s a downside that some believe could haunt the company.

Ford was the only one of Detroit’s Big Three to forego a federal bailout, last year, and to avoid plunging into bankruptcy like Chrysler and General Motors.  “I’m pleased we respected all of our debt-holders and all of our stockholders,” Mulally proclaimed, following his keynote speech marking the opening of this year’s New York International Auto Show.

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But the downside is that Ford couldn’t shed its tens of billions of dollars in debt like its cross-town rivals.  And today, that adds up to millions of dollars in interest, alone, that Ford is covering while Chrysler and GM are not.  That, said Mulally, is why Ford has been paying down its debt, converting some to equity, last year, and now scheduling another cash payment for its $23 billion “revolver,” the business equivalent, he suggested, of a home equity line.

“We’re going to keep improving the balance sheet,” he explained, in an interview, “but keep the entire revolver in place.”


Mulally Still Sticking With the Basics

What a difference a year makes, says Ford CEO.

by on Dec.21, 2009

Ford has received a big payoff for not taking a federal bailout, like its crosstown rivals.

Like a coach that has found a successful formula, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said he plans to keep the company focused on its basic plan of emphasizing steady and continuing improvement in the company’s products. “We’re going to maintain a laser like focus on the plan,” he said.

“What a year. It was a fantastic year,” said Mulally, following a background briefing with reporters, adding that the domestic industry is in better shape than it was only a year ago when Detroit’s automakers had been castigated on Capitol Hill after appealing for federal aid. “What a difference going into this auto show,” said Mulally.


Mulally, who is now Detroit’s most senior CEO, said he was glad his presence in Washington helped General Motors and Chrysler win government support.  Other governments support their auto industries, he said.