DETROIT - Ford CEO Jim Hackett is the right man for the job during these changing times in the car business, Bill Ford, the company's executive chairman, said in an interview.
After about a year on the job, Hackett, 63, has been both praised as a visionary and criticized as unable to effectively translate his vision for remaking Ford.
During that period, Ford's stock has been stuck in neutral, while cross-town rival General Motors is picking up steam and getting credit for its progress on self-driving cars.
Bill Ford told the Detroit Free Press, part of the USA TODAY Network, that Hackett brings an ability to carefully guide the company while at the same time positioning it strategically for the future.
Hackett, former longtime CEO of furniture maker Steelcase, became Ford chief executive in May 2017. Considered a future thinker and cost-cutter, he has launched a "fitness" campaign designed to more efficiently use company resources.
One of his biggest moves was authorizing a move to soon discontinue U.S. sales of most passenger cars, including the Ford Fusion, Fiesta and Taurus, which have been struggling.
"When Jim took this job, Jim was a 20-year CEO. He knows exactly what the demands of a CEO job - he knew what he was getting into," Bill Ford said.
"I think he believed, and I did too, that there was no point in doing this if he had one foot out the door. If he was going to do this, he would have to go all in. And he has."
Bill Ford, who championed Hackett as successor to Mark Fields, said "I love having him here."
"We've known each other a long, long time. There's a great familiarity. Jim has a big brain," he said. "This is the most challenging management time, I think, In our corporate history. You have to run today's business, and run it really well. You have to then envision a very, very different long-term business, and then you have to build bridges between those two in a way that becomes seamless. Those are three big jobs to do and you have to do all at once. You can't do them sequentially because they all have to happen.
"Jim has the ability - to use his vernacular - to hold the now, the near and the far together in a way, I find, is really good for the organization."
Ford's comments came during an interview outlining his vision for the company's plan to rehabilitate a dilapidated train station in Detroit that the automaker recently acquired to make a hub for its self-driving car and future mobility work.
Ford will ultimately have 2,500 workers on a large campus in the train station's Corktown neighborhood, including many positions in the station itself.
Ford reported a $7.6 billion profit on $156.8 billion in revenue for 2017. The company's revenue was up 3 percent from a year earlier, primarily from sales in North America.
Follow Detroit Free Press reporter Phoebe Wall Howard on Twitter @phoebesaid.
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