Ford CEO ousted in favor of founder’s great-grandson

By Ed Garsten

Associated Press

DEARBORN, Mich. – Jacques Nasser has been ousted as CEO of the slumping Ford Motor Co., replaced by the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford, the company told employees today.

The move puts a Ford family member in charge of the automaker’s day-to-day management for the first time since 1979, when Henry Ford II resigned.

“We’ve been given an amazing legacy, and we’re going to build an even better one,” said chairman William Clay Ford Jr., who replaces Nasser as chief executive officer.

The management shake-up included the elevation of North American group vice president Nick Scheele, known as “Mr. Fixit,” to chief operating officer.

Scheele will be succeeded by Jim Padilla, group vice president for manufacturing and quality. Also, vice president of communications Jason Vines will be dismissed.

“We’ve been given an amazing legacy, and we’re going to build an even better one,” said Ford Jr., who was speaking at an auditorium at company headquarters. “The sole reason for these changes is to ensure the ongoing success of the Ford Motor Co.”

Nasser’s fate had been the subject of much speculation in recent months as Ford was plagued by eroding sales, questions about vehicle quality and the Firestone tire crisis.

Nasser, 53, earned the moniker “Jac the Knife” for his prodigious cost-cutting. When he took over in January 1999, Ford was poised to overtake General Motors Corp. as the world’s top automaker.

But 18 months later, Ford’s momentum was shaken by the news that people were dying in accidents when the treads separated from Firestone tires, most of which were installed as original equipment on Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

In some cases, the vehicles rolled over after the tread separations.

Just last week, a judge approved a settlement of a lawsuit over allegedly faulty ignition systems for vehicles dating from 1983 to 1995. The plaintiffs said the settlement could cost Ford as much as $2.7 billion for repairs.

Ford’s market share slipped during the first nine months of 2001 to 22.6 percent from 22.8 percent a year ago.

Through September, sales of Ford vehicles were down 11 percent from the first nine months of 2000, a record sales year for the industry. By the third quarter of 2001, Ford’s losses dipped to $692 million, a reversal from the same quarter a year earlier, when it earned $888 million.

Looking for ways to save money, Ford announced in August it would cut 4,000 to 5,000 salaried positions by the end of 2001. Not wanting to appear hardhearted during a slowing economy, Ford said the separations were voluntary.

Employees targeted for the chopping block were offered buyouts or early retirement packages. The company hoped enough would take them for it to make its reduction targets.

Chief financial officer Martin Inglis promised more restructuring moves.

The first real sign that Nasser’s job was on the line came in July, when Scheele was brought in to take over Ford’s North American operations. Two weeks later, the automaker announced the creation of the Office of the Chairman and CEO, which required Nasser to report more regularly to Ford Jr.

Ford’s father, William Clay Ford Sr., is brother of Henry Ford II, who served as chairman and CEO from 1945 to 1979, and grandson of company founder Henry Ford, who ran the company from 1908 to 1918.

Henry Ford’s only son, Edsel Ford, ran the company from 1918 to 1943. His name graced an ill-fated late 1950s model, one of the biggest flops in automobile history.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Arif Ghouseat flips through his work binder in his office conference room Paine Field on Monday, Dec. 10, 2018 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Paine Field Airport director departing for Sea-Tac job

Arif Ghouse, who oversaw the launch of commercial air travel at Paine Field, is leaving after eight years.

NO CAPTION. Logo to accompany news of education.
Public school enrollment still down, even as rural districts grow

Smaller districts in Snohomish County seem to be recovering more quickly — and gaining students — than their urban counterparts.

Josiah Degenstein
Lake Stevens man with alleged white supremacist ties faces gun charges

Storage units belonging to Josiah Degenstein contained multiple arsenals, according to police.

Maricel Samaniego, center, teaches English to Liedith Espana, left, and Nemecio Rios, right, at Liberty Elementary School in Marysville, Washington, on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. Marysville schools partner with Everett Community College to offer free English classes to parents of multilingual students. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Free English class helps Marysville parents lower language barrier

The school district partners with EvCC to teach practical classes on pronunciation, paperwork and parent-teacher conferences.

Firefighters works through rescue drills during the Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue’s annual Water Rescue Academy on the Skykomish River Thursday afternoon in Index, Washington on May 5, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish Regional Fire asks voters for two more commissioners

The district currently has seven commissioners, but it can keep only five. A Feb. 14 special election could change that.

Photo by David Welton
A federal grant will help pay for the cost of adding a charging station to the Clinton ferry terminal.
Federal money to help electrify Clinton ferry dock

The Federal Transit Administration awarded state ferries a $4.9 million grant to help electrify the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

News logo for use with stories about coronavirus COVID-19 COVID
5 things to watch in Snohomish County as COVID public emergency ends

Snohomish County health care leaders shared what they’re concerned about when the federal emergency expires May 11.

Angelica Montanari and daughter Makena, 1, outside of the Community Health Center of Snohomish County Everett-Central Clinic on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amid patient woes, CHC of Snohomish County staffers push for a union

Doctors and nurse practitioners are worried about providers being shut out from clinical decisions, which hurts patient care.

Students make their way after school at Edmonds-Woodway High School on March 12, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
After Edmonds schools internet outage, staff ‘teaching like it’s the 1900s’

“Suspicious activities” on the district’s network delayed classes and caused schedule havoc. “Kids are using pencil and paper again.”

Most Read