‘Change agent’ Hackett departs with mixed results
Jim Farley will be the 11th CEO of Ford Motor Co. starting Oct. 1. The company had a president but not a CEO before going public in 1956.
John Gray, 1903-06
A candymaker and banker from Detroit who invested in Henry Ford’s new company and agreed to be its first president until his death three years later.
Henry Ford, 1906-18, 1943-45
The company founder introduced the Model T in 1908 and doubled workers’ wages to $5 a day in 1914. He passed on the title of president to his son, Edsel, in 1919 but remained the automaker”s driving force through the end of World War II, when his family forced him to cede control to his grandson, Hank the Deuce.
Edsel Ford, 1919-43
Edsel bought the Lincoln Motor Co. in 1922 to compete with Buick and Cadillac and rolled out the Model A in 1927. He died of stomach cancer as the company was building tanks and B-24 bombers for the Allied forces, prompting his elderly father to take charge again.
Henry Ford II, 1945-79
Still, the company’s longest-serving leader, Henry Ford’s grandson presided over the creation of the hugely successful Thunderbird and Mustang, as well as the record Edsel and Pinto. He hired the Whiz Kids, a group of 10 U.S. Army Air Forces veterans who revived the company’s fortunes after the war ended, and he famously fired Lee Iacocca as president the year before he retired.
Philip Caldwell, 1979-85
After 73 years of family leadership, Caldwell guided the automaker through a turbulent time for Detroit, as Japanese automakers gained a foothold in the market and gasoline prices spiked. Ford introduced the Taurus, which became the country’s top-selling car, weeks before his retirement.
Donald Petersen, 1985-90
Petersen introduced the idea of a product planning department and told management to create cars they would be “proud to park in their driveways.” The philosophy increased Ford’s market share produced successes such as the Explorer and helped the company become more profitable than General Motors for the first time since 1924.
Harold “Red” Poling, 1990-93
Poling helped steer Ford through the recession of the 1980s, then found himself in charge during another downturn in the early 1990s. He took a hard line on spending, saying financial discipline was more important than creativity or product.
Alexander Trotman, 1993-99
A native of England, Trotman was Ford’s first foreign-born CEO. He globalized many of Ford’s operations so vehicles could share parts and platforms to reduce production costs.
Jacques Nasser, 1999-2001
Nasser created the Premier Automotive Group to make Ford a bigger player in the luxury market. His tenure was overshadowed by Ford’s recalls of more than 20 million Firestone tires, and the scandal ultimately led to his firing.
Bill Ford, 2001-06
The fourth-generation CEO of Ford’s expanded portfolio of SUVs but eventually decided he needed to replace himself with an outsider. He hired Alan Mulally from Boeing and made himself executive chairman.
Alan Mulally, 2006-14
Mulally cut costs, sold off non-core brands and focused the company around a plan he called “One Ford.” In the early months of his tenure, Ford presciently mortgaged most of its assets to secure a loan that allowed it to survive the Great Recession without a government bailout or bankruptcy filing.
Mark Fields, 2014-17
Fields aimed to transform Ford into a mobility company, but was criticized for not paying enough attention to current products. Despite posting significant profits, shares of Ford dwindled in value, and the board of directors replaced him with Jim Hackett in an effort to make the company move faster.
Jim Hackett, 2017-2020
Hackett, a former furniture company CEO, was a Ford board member who was selected to head its Smart Mobility subsidiary before being tapped as Fields’ successor. He cut costs as part of an $11 billion restructuring plan, but a continued lack of confidence among investors made the stock continue to slide.
Jim Farley, starting Oct. 1, 2020
Farley, hired from Toyota in 2007, is a lifelong car nut whose grandfather was one of Henry Ford’s early employees. Farley previously ran Ford’s European operations and marketing before a promotion to COO in February made it clear that he was the top candidate to succeed Hackett.
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