Jim Hackett, the former top executive at Grand Rapids-based office furniture manufacturer Steelcase Inc., has been tapped to lead Ford Motor Co.
In a statement this morning, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford said Hackett will serve as president and CEO of the company. Hackett, 62, will take over from CEO Mark Fields, who has held the position for almost three years. A 28-year company veteran, Fields had been under pressure for the company’s falling share price, which had declined over 40 percent since he took over, according to reports. The company said Fields, 56, “elected to retire.”
Together, Ford and Hackett will focus on global operational execution, modernizing Ford’s business and transforming the company’s culture and processes.
“Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space,” Ford said in a statement. “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.”
Hackett served as CEO of Steelcase from 1994 to 2014, where he was credited for changing the company’s course to embrace lean manufacturing principles and emphasize design, rather than its manufacturing acumen, to keep up with a technology-driven society that was changing how workers did their jobs. Until that point, Steelcase had been a highly vertical company that did most of its manufacturing in-house, which Hackett saw as an unsustainable model, he said in a 2014 interview with MiBiz in 2014 reflecting on his career.
“I realized that we didn’t have the configuration right to compete. I stood and stared out the window and I saw this industrial complex, and it hit me that it couldn’t continue in a bastion strength,” Hackett said at the time. “The hardest thing was to try and make it a design-led culture. We were a manufacturing-led culture.”
He joined the board of directors at Ford in 2013. Last year, Ford tapped Hackett to lead its subsidiary Ford Smart Mobility LLC, which focuses on designing and investing in new services that expand the automaker’s business model.
Hackett also served as interim athletic director at the University of Michigan until March 2016, a position he held since late 2014.
In prior interviews, local leaders praised Hackett for his unique problem-solving abilities.
“What’s always impressed me is that when he looks at an issue or a problem, he takes a very different angle than everyone else,” The Right Place CEO Birgit Klohs told MiBiz for a previous report. “He looks at issues from a totally different point of view. He looks at things differently than the norm.”
As part of the restructuring at Ford, the company made several executive changesm effective June 1. Jim Farley was appointed executive vice president and president of global markets, after having served as president of the company’s operations in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Joe Hinrichs was named executive vice president and president of global operations after serving as president of its Americas division. Marcy Klevorn, the company’s current vice president of information technology and Chief Information Officer, was named executive vice president and president of mobility.
Their replacements will be named at a later date, according to the company.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.