C-Suite Shakeup at Ford: Auto Industry Shifts ‘from Sheet Metal to Mobility Services’
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C-Suite Shakeup at Ford: Auto Industry Shifts ‘from Sheet Metal to Mobility Services’

The C-Suite shakeup at Ford is the latest blaring signal that the landscape for OEMs – and collision repairers, by extension – is changing dramatically, for better or worse.

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New Ford CEO Jim Hackett (left) and Executive Chairman Bill Ford meet with employees and members of the press to discuss the appointment.

The C-Suite shakeup at Ford is the latest blaring signal that the landscape for OEMs – and collision repairers, by extension – is changing dramatically, for better or worse.

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On May 22, Ford named Jim Hackett – a former CEO of furniture maker Steelcase ­– as the automaker’s president and CEO. Hackett succeeds longtime Ford exec Mark Fields, who is retiring.

A Forbes article provides some excellent context for the shakeup, noting that Hackett’s appointment comes “as the auto industry shifts from selling sheet metal to offering a range of mobility services.”

“The appointment of the ex-CEO of Steelcase, who ran Ford’s Smart Mobility division since March 2016 and has served on the company’s board, left many questioning the choice of a former furniture executive to run an automaker over an octane-in-the-veins veteran like Fields,” Doug Newcomb wrote in the Forbes article. “But it could be a harbinger of more C-suite changes as the auto industry is transformed by technology and increasingly threatened by new Silicon Valley players such as Google, Apple and Uber.”

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Hackett not only has Rust Belt street cred – he played football at the University of Michigan and later was the school’s interim athletic director – but also “is the rare buttoned-down CEO that can command the respect of the open-collar Silicon Valley crowd,” Newcomb wrote.

“We’re moving from a position of strength to transform Ford for the future,” Bill Ford said in a news release. “Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space. He’s a true visionary who brings a unique, human-centered leadership approach to our culture, products and services that will unlock the potential of our people and our business.”

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All signs seem to be pointing toward a future dominated by ridiculously high-tech, automated and connected vehicles that aren’t owned by their drivers. Whether this actually becomes reality – and what this will mean for collision repairers – remains to be seen.

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