Bill Ford to Accept Shareholder Outrage in Place of Ex-CEO Mark Fields

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, will be able to avoid some of the shareholder wrath his predecessor assumed. With Mark Fields gone, Bill Ford has taken it upon himself to keep the dream alive and promote the company’s vision of the future while its share price continues to dwindle. The executive chairman and great-grandson of the business’ founder has expanded his duties to include managing corporate communications and interacting with the government — two tasks few would envy.

Bill Ford claims that assuming the responsibilities would allow Hackett to focus on the daily operations and better familiarize himself with the automotive world, of which he has little direct experience with. That isn’t to suggest he’s not the man for the job, but Ford sees no reason to burden him with external communication duties — which we know can get ugly — as he’s settling into the new position.

“I plan to be very active with Jim as a thought-partner,” Ford told Automotive News in an interview. “I certainly am not going to be running the company; Jim will. We are in such interesting times, and there’s so many possibilities ahead of us, that I really want to be Jim’s thought-partner as we go through this.”

Ford previously served as Fields’ backup on mobility matters, environmental awareness, and investment decisions. He also met with Donald Trump during last year’s campaign to deal with criticisms surrounding the brand’s foreign involvement with Mexico and has been fairly outspoken against the presidents’ immigration ban.

“Government relations, so much of that is a long-term kind of thing,” Ford said. “I’ve been around this company a long time, and hopefully will be here a long time. So it made sense to do that as well.”

Having seen ex-CEO Mark Fields struggle with an angry investment community, Hackett seems to have no issue with Ford handling that aspect of the business.

“Bill has a special role in the world,” Hackett said during last week’s press conference at Ford’s headquarters. “He can see heads of state. He can play a key role in policy for the company.”

[Image: Ford Motor Co.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Cdotson Cdotson on May 30, 2017

    Comments live for over 12 hours and no grammar naz1 has picked on the awkward sentence in paragraph 2. Maybe it's the holiday weekend slowly winding down, or it's something with which the readership is getting used to.

  • Whitworth Whitworth on May 30, 2017

    It would be smart if business leaders on both sides of the aisles just kept their politics more private. Bill Ford seems way to outspoken about his, especially on issues that really aren't directly related to Ford. It can really bite you in a bad way if an election doesn't go your way and shareholders suffer when a crusading wannabe political activist is the face of a company.

    • Bikegoesbaa Bikegoesbaa on May 30, 2017

      I don't know that he's a "wannabe". If Bill Ford doesn't have the resources and influence to qualify as a genuine political activist then nobody does.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X As much problems as I had with my '96 Chevy Impala SS.....I would love to try one again. I've seen a Dark Cherry Metallic one today and it looked great.
  • Susan O’Neil There is a good reason to keep the Chevrolet Malibu and other 4 door family sedans! You can transport your parents and other somewhat handicapped people comfortably and safety! If someone can stand and pivot you can put them in your car. An armrest in the back seat is appreciated and a handle above the door! Oh…and leather seats so your passenger can slide across the seat! 😊Plus, you can place a full sized wheelchair or walker in the trunk! The car sits a little lower…so it’s doable! I currently have a Ford Fusion and we have a Honda Accord. Our previous cars were Mercury Sables-excellent for transporting handicapped people and equipment! As the population ages-sedans are a very practical choice! POV from a retired handicapped advocate and daughter! 😊
  • Freddie Remember those ads that say "Call your doctor if you still have...after four hours"?You don't need to call your doctor, just get behind the wheel of a CUV. In fact, just look at one.I'm a car guy with finite resources; I can't afford a practical car during the week plus a fun car on the weekend. My solution is my Honda Civic Si 4 door sedan. Maybe yours is a Dodge Charger (a lot of new Chargers are still on dealer lots).
  • Daniel J Interesting in that we have several weeks where the temperature stays below 45 but all weather tires can't be found in a shop anywhere. I guess all seasons are "good enough".
  • Steve Biro For all the talk about sedans vs CUVs and SUVs, I simply can’t bring myself to buy any modern vehicle. And I know it’s only going to get worse.