Given its status as having pioneered the U. S. auto industry, and the fact that its founding family still has a lot to say about its business, it’s big news anytime there’s a significant change in upper management at the Ford Motor Company. As the blue oval from Dearborn begins to approach its 120th birthday, that happened last week, as company president and CEO Jim Hackett announced his retirement from the post he’s held since 2017. That news was followed almost immediately by executive chairman Bill Ford’s declaration that Hackett will be succeeded by a particularly bright light in the global auto industry, Jim Farley, who’s coming into the job having already proven that he’s all about the “car” in the car business.
Farley, on the right in the FoMoCo photo (the older gent on the left is Jim Hackett) takes the big chair with some firmly established bona fides when it comes to pure car enthusiasm. Born in Argentina as the son of banking executive, Farley, 52, came to Ford in 2007 as one of the first hires of then-president Alan Mullaly, who ran the company from 2006 through 2014. Farley was previously an executive at Toyota, where he managed its Lexus brand and was instrumental in creating its lower-priced nameplate, Scion. Since arriving at Ford, Farley – a cousin of the late comic actor, Chris Farley – held executive posts with Ford Europe, the Middle East and Africa before becoming Dearborn’s first solo officer in charge of global sales, marketing and service. He also ran Lincoln for a time. Farley has already firmly proven that he likes cars, not just running companies that build them, as demonstrated by his status as an active vintage racer. Hackett goes down in Ford history as the architect of its current strategy to abandon almost all car production in favor of pickups and SUVs. His tenure has seen a pattern of lowered stock prices and profitability, issues that will immediately land on Farley’s plate. Incidentally, we ought to give a shout to the guy who’s depicted on the video monitor between Hackett and Farley. It’s Farley’s grandfather, via his employee ID, who worked at Ford in the early 1900s when Henry the Elder ran the business.