Ford Appoints Don Leclair As CFO
DETROIT (AP) _ Ford Motor Co. on Thursday promoted controller Don Leclair to chief financial officer, succeeding Allan Gilmour, who came out of retirement a little more than a year ago to help the automaker’s ongoing turnaround bid.
Leclair’s elevation, not totally unexpected, means a Ford insider will continue to oversee the cost-cutting that Gilmour began when chairman Bill Ford Jr. lured him out of retirement in May 2002.
Leclair, 51, will report to Gilmour, who remains vice chairman. Ford’s board also elected 43-year-old Jim Gouin (pronounced Gway) as a company vice president and controller, succeeding Leclair. Gouin has been controller for North America since November 2001.
The appointments are effective Aug. 1.
``Don Leclair and Jim Gouin are world-class finance leaders and Ford veterans,″ said Bill Ford Jr. ``They’ve been instrumental in working with Allan Gilmour to achieve our cost objectives and revitalization plan targets.″
Gilmour, 69, had been rumored to be on the brink of a second retirement from Ford, the world’s second-largest automaker behind General Motors Corp.
When he returned last year, he became Ford’s third CFO in a year. At the time, the company was trying to rebound from the disastrous Firestone tire recall that took place under former chief executive Jacques Nasser, who was ousted in 2001.
In his new role, Gilmour will continue to oversee Ford’s long-term strategy as well as corporate affairs, human resources, the general auditor’s office, the dealer policy board and the Ford Credit financing business.
``I’m not going anywhere,″ Gilmour said Thursday in a conference call. ``When I came back I didn’t expect it to be a short career. My job is to help get the company back on track. I think we’re making progress, but we have plenty to do.″
David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities Inc., said Ford’s internal promotions to fill the difficult finance posts came as no surprise.
``They seem to have an orderly succession, with each guy moving up a notch,″ Healy said.
Ford, which launched its restructuring in January 2002, earned nearly $900 million in the first quarter following two years in which it lost a total of $6.4 billion because of bloated costs and a string of poor vehicle launches.
Ford executives have said the key to meeting objectives continues to be reducing costs, which helps offset rising health care expenses and vehicle pricing troubles.
At the company’s annual meeting in June, Bill Ford said the automaker already had achieved its goal of trimming expenses by $500 million this year.
Despite a difficult automotive market, Ford executives have said they expect the company to meet its financial targets this year and record a slight market share increase in the United States.
Ford reports second-quarter earnings Wednesday. Without being specific, Gilmour said the results should reveal a ``terrific performance″ in cost-cutting.
Gilmour retired from Ford in 1995 after a 34-year career that included serving as vice chairman and as a member of the office of the chief executive and the company’s board of directors.
Leclair, a 27-year Ford employee who’s been controller since Nov. 1, 2001, said his two biggest challenges will be nothing new _ trimming costs and improving quality.
``This is a product-driven revitalization plan, and getting that right _ ensuring that quality and vehicle costs are right at the time we bring them out _ is probably another thing that would be high on the list,″ Leclair said.
Leclair has served as controller for North America and Ford Australia. He joined the company in 1976 as a financial analyst.
Gouin joined Ford in 1979 as an accounts payable clerk.
Vice Chairman Carl Reichardt’s retirement, which was announced June 16, also becomes effective August 1.
In trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange, Ford shares were up 1 cent to close at $11.13.
On the Net:
Ford Motor Co., http://www.ford.com