Jim Farley, of Ford Motor Co., talks about the future of the automobile and how Ford will innovate and change demand like they did with the Model T.
Detroit Free Press
At 8 a.m. Thursday on the first day of Jim Farley stepping into his new CEO role at Ford Motor, the company announced “operational and leadership changes” designed to do what Farley has promised publicly: drive growth and speed transformation of the 117-year-old automaker.
The plan, Ford said, is to “turn around automotive operations; allocate capital to Ford’s strongest franchises and high-growth opportunities, and produce compelling, uniquely Ford electric vehicles at scale.”
First of all, Farley replaced the relatively new Chief Financial Officer Tim Stone with Ford veteran John Lawler, 54, effective immediately. Lawler will oversee the finance and Ford Motor Credit operations. Stone accepted a job at ASAPP Inc., an artificial intelligence software company.
“Stone will remain with Ford through Oct. 15 to ensure a smooth transition,” Ford said.
Former CEO Jim Hackett announced the hiring of Stone, 53, who had no automotive experience, in March 2019, despite Stone’s controversial departure from his previous employer where he reportedly went around the CEO to seek a pay raise that was denied.
Ford retained former CFO Bob Shanks on the payroll while also paying Stone. Ford explained at the time that it was to assist with transition; Stone was hired in April 2019 and assumed the job two months later. The company ended up paying the CFO and former CFO more than $8 million each that year, according to its regulatory filings. The company confirmed Thursday that the “employee adviser” role ended for Shanks at the end of 2019.
On Feb. 4, when reporting that annual profits plunged from $3.7 billion one year earlier, Tim Stone characterized the company’s financial performance as “not OK.”
In 2019, the cumulative compensation for the six top executives at Ford Motor Co. — $70 million — exceeded the automaker’s annual net income of $47 million, a year that included pension payments, global restructuring costs, a botched Ford Explorer launch and billions in warranty costs.
This year began with disruption and factory shutdowns caused by COVID-19. But Ford has resumed full production and is focused now on launching its 2021 Ford Bronco, all-new Ford F-150 and all-electric Mustang Mach-E.
Cash is the key to survival during these uncertain times for any manufacturer, especially automakers. The company’s credit rating was downgraded in March, which has the same negative effect on a business as it does on an individual with bad credit: Getting capital can be hard. Ford executives have said the company has the cash it needs to operate at this time.
New CFO seasoned
Meanwhile, Lawler had been CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and vice president, mobility partnerships, and spent much of his 30 years at Ford in finance leadership and general management, Ford said in a news release. He had a successful run as president of Ford China and served as corporate controller and CFO, global markets and head of worldwide strategy.
“John knows our company inside-out, has a clear view and great ambition for what Ford can be, and articulates what’s needed to get there,” Farley said in a statement. “As CFO, he will help assure we have the means to fund those ambitions.”
Farley acknowledged Stone’s contribution in prepared remarks.
“Tim has been a powerful voice inside the company pushing us all to persistently focus on our customers and what they want and need,” Farley said. “He also played a critical leadership role in guiding the company through the COVID-19 crisis. We thank Tim for his contribution and wish him the best.”
The company noted that Farley is the 11th CEO in Ford history.
“During the past three years, under Jim Hackett’s leadership, we have made meaningful progress and opened the door to becoming a vibrant, profitably growing company,” Farley said. “Now it’s time to charge through that door.”
Farley’s actions won immediate praise from industry analysts.
“Holy crap,” said John McElroy, host of “Autoline After Hours” and a longtime industry observer. “This is a stunning announcement and completely unexpected. Jim Farley is showing he is absolutely in charge of Ford Motor Co. and he’s not wasting any time. He’s on a mission to get this company turned around as fast as he possibly can.”
Change brings relief to those who want to see Ford succeed, McElroy said. “Jim Farley is putting his stamp down and saying, ‘I’m running the show.’ This fits with everything everyone has been saying about Jim Hackett for the last three years. The guy was not a leader. He never really marshaled the troops to follow behind him. He communicated in very ambiguous and gauzy ways that left people wondering where the company was really headed.”
The one positive legacy for Hackett, who took the helm in May 2017, McElroy said, was the introduction of “customer focused design,” of vehicles, which leans on intuitive consumer needs and building those into vehicles.
“Other than that, he has been a disaster,” McElroy said. “From 2014 to 2019, the U.S. auto industry enjoyed the golden age. We have never seen so many years of back-to-back rising sales and unbelievable profits and Ford turned in an absolutely mediocre performance. Jim Hackett never got control of the company because he never understood what was going on there.”
While Hackett came from the furniture industry as a retired CEO of Steelcase, Farley has built a career in the automotive industry, going to Ford from Toyota.
Hackett, 65, continues as “special adviser” to Ford until March 2021.
Market analyst Jon Gabrielsen, a longtime critic of Hackett’s approach to running Ford, initially questioned the idea of bringing a Silicon Valley finance executive to an iconic automaker with unprecedented market challenges. He praised the pivot.
“Jim Farley began his changes with the exact right priority. In times like this, the CFO position may be the most critical role in an entire company,” Gabrielsen said.
“The auto industry and Ford itself are incredibly complex and have issues that must be understood and mastered. Experience in other industries does not translate to automotive, and even Ford-specific issues are different from other automakers,” he said. “In these crisis times, it is absolutely mission critical that Ford has a CFO that totally and completely understands the auto industry and the company itself.”
The specific choice of Lawler was noted by Joe McCabe, CEO of AutoForecast Solutions based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.
“Lawler brings experience in autonomous vehicles, China and Ford’s complete global strategy,” McCabe said. “Companies have to design things that are accepted in every single market. He knows the long game, not just North America. He knows how to take electrification forward.”
Ford said the changes announced on Thursday were the first in a series of expected announcements. These were noted, in addition to the departure of Stone:
- Jeff Lemmer, Ford’s chief information officer, will retire Jan. 1 after 33 years at Ford. A successor, who will lead the technology and software platform, will be announced soon.
- Joy Falotico, 53, who has been president of Lincoln and Ford’s chief marketing officer for nearly three years, “will be dedicated solely to further growing Ford’s luxury brand once a new chief marketing officer is named.” She will report to Kumar Galhotra, president, the Americas and international markets.
- Dale Wishnousky, 57, vice president, manufacturing, Ford of Europe, will retire at the end of the year. He began with Ford in 1987. Kieran Cahill, 53, previously director, manufacturing and strategic projects, Ford of Europe, succeeds Wishnousky effectively immediately.
Ford hosted a virtual town hall meeting with an estimated 20,000 employees globally Thursday morning. Bill Ford, executive chairman of the company, introduced the new CEO and he delivered a 25-minute speech that has been described as motivational. Lawler, Galhotra and Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer, also spoke. Stone said goodbye to the team.
Farley told the team he plans to move with “urgency to turn around its automotive operations — improving quality, reducing costs and accelerating the restructuring of underperforming businesses,” the company said in a release.
Top priorities for growth include expanding commercial business with software services “that drive loyalty and recurring revenue streams” and adding more affordable vehicles to its global lineup, including North America, the company said.
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‘There is no new normal’: Worcester small business owner pivoted during COVID-19 and expects only more change after pandemic
It took about eight minutes for the bank to reject Natalie Rodriguez’s application for a loan through the Small Business Administration.
Rodriguez opened Nuestra, a Puerto Rican inspired restaurant in Worcester, in January of 2020. When COVID-19 arrived months later she discovered Nuestra wasn’t eligible for the federal or state funding that thousands of other establishments received.
To qualify, restaurants were required to show payroll and salary for years before 2020. Those figures didn’t exist for a restaurant that weren’t open in 2019.
“[I was] determined and knew that ‘no’ is not an OK answer,” Rodriguez said. “A door may close but you may need to kick down another door.”
Rodriguez then applied for conventional loans only to be led to more closed doors. Less than 10 minutes after applying for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan, she received notice that her poor credit score resulted in her application being denied.
Rodriguez used the dead end with the SBA to create a new path for herself and Nuestra.
She not only learned how to improve her credit but wanted to ensure others didn’t have to follow her journey as an entrepreneur.
Rodriguez extended the “Nuestra” brand to include financial advising. She started Nuestra Financial in April of 2020.
“Now I’m helping others. I’ve been able to restore my credit,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve been able to help others restore their credit and be able to help them make a business themselves if they so choose. I’ve been able to survive.”
Without grants and other funding, Rodriguez managed to keep her restaurant open through funds generated from Nuestra Financial.
“I was very quiet about it in the beginning. I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh look at this girl, she just opened a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic,’ and talk smack,” Rodriguez said. “About a month or two later, a light bulb hit and I was like, nobody pays my bills but me. I needed to mind my own business and not worry about what other people thought.”
In creating Nuestra Financial, Rodriguez said she’s helped Worcester residents restore their credit and purchase new vehicles and homes.
Rodriguez said financial literacy is rarely taught to children in school and wasn’t something she learned. When a situation arises like a rejection notice for an economic disaster loan, many don’t know how to respond or where to find answers.
Rodriguez said she’s helped young and old people, along with those who have bad credit or no credit.
“We lack the confidence, including myself, because we weren’t taught,” Rodriguez said. “So if you don’t know something, you weren’t taught, you’re not going to be confident about it.”
Coming out of the pandemic, Rodriguez remains confident about both her businesses. Nuestra, the restaurant, while closed for daily service continues to provide catering services. Rodriguez is still preparing what the future holds for the restaurant but plans to announce an update soon.
As masks start to become less a part of daily routines, Rodriguez, as a small business owner, doesn’t envision many differences from this year to last.
So many aspects of life remain uncertain from rising food costs to a potential third booster for vaccines and whether the country will ever reach herd immunity for COVID-19.
The pandemic arrived with Rodriguez immediately pivoting. As it approaches its potential end, Rodriguez will continue to do what helped her to navigate it.
“I feel like there is no new normal just yet,” Rodriguez said. “I think we’re all just trying to adjust and pivot at the same time and getting creative. I think it’s where we all are.”
Columbus Mattress Wholesale moves to newer, larger Gahanna store
More than four years back, Cathryn Clark’s boyfriend, Christopher Robbins, was on the hunt for a new mattress. He just couldn’t find one at an affordable price.
Clark, 29, and Robbins, 34, who are now engaged, were living in Franklinton, where they still live today.
They had no experience owning or operating a small business; Robbins worked as a retail assistant for SAS Retail Services while Clark worked as the communications director for two Methodist churches.
But in 2017, Robbins, with Clark at his side, took the leap and opened Columbus Mattress Wholesale on the West Side, with the goal of helping low-income consumers secure mattresses and other bedtime products.
“We really wanted to bring a store to people that, you know, they weren’t paying an arm and leg, but they still could get a good night’s sleep,” Clark said.
Customers at Columbus Mattress Wholesale can pay cash or credit, for example, but the business also works with financing companies that serve people without credit scores, with bad credit or who are lower income.
Last month, the business made a big move. It expanded from its original location on Harrisburg Pike to a store double the size at 435 Agler Road in Gahanna.
Clark said she and Robbins saw a need in the broader area, with many of their customers coming from outside the Hilltop, such as Linden.
Nestled between Dollar Tree and the Ohio BMV in Gahanna, the new storefront opened Memorial Day weekend and sells mattresses, bed bases, bed frames and pillows. Mattress prices range from under $100 to more than $1,000, depending on the size and brand, which includes some well-known names such as Serta, Beautyrest and Casper.
Clark said while she and Robbins originally sold solely Ohio-based brands, they’ve branched out to national brands as business has grown.
Columbus Mattress Wholesale also offers free same-day delivery on most orders from customers living in Columbus.
Clark does a little bit of everything for the business, from running communications, to working on the sales floor, to managing the sales team, to ordering what they sell.
She said a big mission for herself and Robbins, beyond doing business, is aiding the community.
“We’ve seen a lot of people struggle,” Clark said.
Clark said she and Robbins work to mentor other people who are hoping to open or currently own a small business. She added that the store starts employees at $17 per hour.
She and Robbins haven’t decided yet what they will do with the original location — which is currently closed — but said they might shift it into an accessory store.
A Guide to Getting Mobile Deals with Bad Credit History
You’re interested in a new mobile deal but there’s only one thing that’s stopping; you’ve got a bad credit history. Does that mean that your hopes of getting a new phone contract are crushed? Well, not exactly. In this article, you will learn how to get a mobile phone with no credit check required and how you can navigate the issue to get a great deal even with bad credit history.
Why is a bad credit history a big deal?
When taking a new phone contract, it means you’re entering into a financial agreement that requires you to make payments in monthly installments. As such, many providers of the service will want to ensure that they’re entering into an agreement with someone who will pay the agreed amount without violating the terms.
The best way for them to have that assurance is by looking into the credit history of the client. But does it necessarily mean that if you’ve got a bad credit history you can’t honor your side of the bargain in a phone contract? Of course not; which is why this article gives you the options you can pursue to end up landing a pretty impressive deal.
Although you might not find a deal that includes the latest devices in the market, you’ll not lack a relatively cheaper but functional option. For instance, if you’re a great fan of the iPhone, you might end up landing the iPhone XR instead of the latest release of iPhone 12. When the deal is cheaper, you stand higher chances of success as opposed to one that just dropped in the market and so it’s in high demand.
Another alternative is to find a contract that comes with a used handset as such tend to be less strict in terms of credit history requirements. That means you’re likely to pass the test of a contract with an already used gadget as opposed to that of a brand new phone.
Another alternative could be to go for SIM only deals especially if you already have an alternative source for a handset. Most of the providers won’t require you to sign any contract and so they’ll not look into your previous credit history. SIM only deals tend to be intensive on minutes, texts and data offers.
Networks that favor people with bad credit
There are networks that are more lenient to people with bad credit history than others. Major networks including Vodafone, O2 and EE usually come with strict requirements that might only frustrate you. The following are the alternatives you could consider looking into:
Smarty:The company offers SIM only plans that don’t require you to sign any contract. If you have an alternative handset, this could be a great alternative to consider as they won’t do a credit check on you. Their services and offers run on a monthly rolling basis which means you can walk away at any time in case you’re dissatisfied with the quality of service you’re getting. Their deals start at 2GB of data and unlimited texts and calls at a cost of £5 to unlimited calls, texts and data for £16.
Giffgaff:You won’t be subjected to a credit test here as well during sign up for one of the packages that the network offers. You’ll be required to sign up for a monthly bundle of your choice that’s inclusive of calls, data and texts. You can proceed with the same plan or switch to a new one after the month is gone. Most of their deals start at £8 a month.
VOXI:The network has numerous offers that operate on a 30-day rolling basis. They also won’t bother performing a credit check on you as it has no use in the first place. A bonus with this network is that they won’t include the social sites you frequent in their data charges.
Mobile phone to go with a SIM only deal
The SIM only deals we’ve highlighted above means that you’ll need to have a separate handset. In case you don’t have one already, you can take a separate mobile phone contract to go with your preferred SIM only deal. The other alternative is to buy one outright. But in case you don’t have money to make the purchase, you can always save up and buy when you’ve accumulated enough.
Some great smartphones that are classic and yet won’t put a huge wall in your pocket. Coveted brands such as iPhone and Samsung have great devices such as the Samsung Galaxy A52 5G that goes for £349 and the iPhone SE valued at £399. As you can see, with some savings, you should be able to get your hands on these gadgets and many others out there. And if you feel that these cost on the higher side, you can opt for refurbished phones. Refurbished phones refer to those handsets that have been used but have undergone intensive testing to ensure they still have got higher functionality.
When do credit checks apply?
Credit history is required by providers that have a mobile phone that requires a payment plan spanning several months or years. In most cases, the major network providers including EE, O2 and Vodafone will do a background check on your credit check before allowing you to sign up for their deals. Some factors that might make you have a poor credit rating is when you’ve missed several months’ payments, made late payments or placed too many credit applications concurrently.
Want to improve your credit rating?
The following are several steps you could consider to help you improve your credit rating. Most of these revolve around efficient management of your money, bills and other forms of payments.
- Have a proper and functional bank account
- Pay all your outgoing bills on or before the due dates
- Ensure you’re registered on the electoral roll
- Don’t share your account with a person with poor credit rating
That’s how you can work out things to get mobile deals even if your credit history isn’t a good one. But going forward, the best action plan would be to work towards improving your credit rating so that you can take advantage of the opportunities that come up in future.
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