The board of directors of Ford Motor Co. may be drafting a succession plan in preparation for the eventual retirement of current chief executive Alan Mulally. According to report by Bloomberg, Ford’s board will possibly name Mark Fields, currently Ford President of the Americas, as Chief Operating Officer, placing him in line as the next successor to Mulally as CEO. Citing a person privy with the matter, Bloomberg reported that Mulally may retire at the end 2013. Ford dealers welcomed the news of the succession plan. Ford dealers have been endeared to Mullaly since he invited around 4,000 of them to a meeting at Ford Field in Detroit in 2006. During the meeting, a crowd of Ford employees, under Mullaly’s instructions, shouted “we love you” in unison to the dealers.
Most dealers attributed Ford’s escape from bankruptcy to Mulally’s plan to mortgage the carmaker’s assets and borrow around $23 billion. Larry Taylor, dealer principal at Beau Townsend Ford in Vandalia, Ohio, told Bloomberg that they hoped to keep Mulally “forever.” He also welcomed Fields as a possible successor, saying he is capable as he has groomed and tutored under Mullaly.
Jim Seavitt, owner of Village Ford, applauded the board’s move, saying the succession question has “been distracting at Ford.” Seavitt remarked that with Fields as COO, he would have more time to work more closely with Mulally in transition. Seavitt has worked closely with Fields the last few years, being a member of an ad hoc dealer advisory group.