Top Ford labor negotiator Gary Johnson to retire after 34 years – Detroit Free Press

Posted: December 16, 2020 at 12:56 am


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Thechief manufacturing and labor affairs officer at Ford Motor Co., a manpraised by union leaders for a negotiating style that helped avert strikes during contract talks in the U.S. in 2019 and Canada in 2020, is retiring, the company announced Tuesday.

Gary Johnson, 56, will end his career at Ford on Feb. 1. He began with the automaker in 1986 as a paint-shop supervisor at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant. He leaves as head of operations for every Ford assembly, stamping and powertrain plant. Previously, Johnson led manufacturing inAsia Pacific. Heoversaw construction of 12 manufacturing plants.

Gary Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, will retire on Feb. 1.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

Johnson played a key role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic and rapidly manufacturingpersonal protective and healthcare equipment, while directing a safe return toglobal manufacturing.

Hes been central to expanding and modernizing our operations to produce high-quality vehicles, our exceptional partnership with the UAW, and this past year leading our people and production through the coronavirus pandemic," said Kumar Galhotra, president, Ford Americas and International Markets Group.

From left, Ford engineering specialist Shaunise Williams, Gary Johnson, CEO Jim Farley, Dearborn Truck Plant Manager Debbie Manzano and launch team member Edana Jones discuss a machine operation in September. Johnson, chief manufacturing and labor affairs officer, will retire on Feb. 1.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

One day before the announcement,IndustryWeek named Johnson2020 Manufacturing Technology Leader of the Yearfrom what wasdescribed asanespecially competitive field of candidateschallenged byCOVID-19 disruption.

The UAW praised Johnson's ability to find common ground.

"Over the past year, as Ford and the U.S. auto industry faced unprecedented challenges over the coronaviruspandemic, Gary Johnson worked tirelessly with the UAW and our members to address the serious health and safety issues in our workplace with collaboration, honesty and real concern," Gerald Kariem, UAW vice president of the Ford Department, said Tuesday."Although we had differences at the bargaining table, Gary always understood that ultimately UAW members were his family too and it was reflected in the way he approached bargaining."

Ronald Green, left, is a 43-year Kansas City Assembly Plant worker who talked with John Savona, Ford North America Manufacturing vice president in October after a company celebration. They're standing in front of a 2021 F-150 pre-production prototype. Savona was promoted Tuesday.(Photo: Amanda Wilhite)

John Savona, 52, will succeedJohnson in overseeingworldwide manufacturing strategywhile continuing to leadmanufacturing in North America.

The UAWsaid it looked forward to working with Savona.

He joined Ford in 1989 as a security guard at the Wayne Assembly Plant after serving in the U.S. Army. Savonahas led manufacturing operations in North America since 2018 and currently serves as executive champion for the Ford Veteran's Network. He will report to Lisa Drake, chief operating officer, North America

These and other executive changes are part of an ongoing management overhaul since CEO Jim Farley took the helmOct. 1.

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Johnson is one of two topFord executives retiring who will be succeeded by colleagues, "while assignments for two Product Development and Engineering leaders areevolving with the companys intense focus on connectivity and electrification," Ford said in a news release.

The changes "will assure consistency and capability as Ford works through next-level changes in its plan to transform, modernize, disrupt and grow its automotive business," Ford said.

Mark Ovenden, 56, president of Fords International Markets Group, is retiring effective Feb. 1 after 35 years at the company. He is credited with improving business in 100 markets including Australia, India, the Middle East, South Africa and Southeast Asia. He coordinated global demand for the Ranger pickup. Previously, Ovenden waspresident, Middle East and Africa; vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service, Asia Pacific; led transformation of Fords joint-venture company in Russia, and was chairman and managing director of Ford of Britain.

Mark Ovenden, 56, president of Fords International Markets Group, is retiring effective Feb. 1 after 35 years at the company.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

Mark has been on the leading edge of expanding the worldwide reach and stature of the Blue Oval, Galhotra said in prepared remarks. He has sharp understanding of and been a strong and constant advocate for customers in places that were newer for Ford.

Dianne Craig, 56, who has for the past two years beenCEO of FordDirect, a digital marketing joint venture with Ford and Lincoln dealers, will succeedOvenden as president, International Markets Group and become a corporate officer. She willreport to Lyle Watters, president, South America and International Markets Group.

Dianne Craig, who has for the past two years beenCEO of FordDirect, a digital marketing joint venture with Ford and Lincoln dealers, has been promoted to president, International Markets Group.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

Craig, whohas been at Fordsince 1986, was director, U.S. Sales, and president and CEO of Ford of Canada.

Starting Jan. 1,Dave Filipe, 53, will become vice president, Vehicle Hardware Modules, andChuck Gray, 56, vice president, Vehicle Embedded Software and Controls.

"Both represent shifting responsibilities within the new Ford operating model that CEO Jim Farley introduced in October," Ford said.

Filipe and Gray continue as officers of the company and reportto Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform and operations officer.

Despite being seasoned veterans at Ford, their roles are new aspart ofrestructuring.

"They will support the companys aggressive push to raise overall product quality and employ a new approach that will scale the innovative battery-electric vehicle platforms and deliver its first fully networked vehicles and services," Ford said.

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Filipe, who has been vice president, powertrain engineering, for the past three years, will now lead hardware development and systems integration of exterior, interior, underbody, internal-combustion powertrain and electrified modules. Previously,he was vehicle line director for North America trucks; director of Global, Engine Engineering; and director, Transmission and Driveline Engineering. Filipe has been with Ford since 1992.

Dave Filipe will become vice president, Vehicle Hardware Modules, at Ford on Jan. 1.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

Gray will be "responsible for transforming the in-vehicle service experience for Ford customers through embedded software, including those that enable over-the-air updates, vehicle controls, embedded connectivity technology, advanced driver-assist technologies and systems, and vehicle cybersecurity," Ford said.

Since 2019, Grayhas been vice president, Vehicle Components and Systems. Earlier, Gray, who joined Ford in 1991, was director of Fords Core Electrical team and also led Transmission and Driveline engineering.

Chuck Gray will become vice president, Vehicle Embedded Software and Controls, starting on Jan. 1 at Ford.(Photo: Ford Motor Co.)

With this new structure, our engineering teams will be even more agile, to capitalize on emerging trends and opportunities and the speed of innovation, Thai-Tang said in prepared remarks. Instead of focusing on components, we will use a systems view of technology and its integration at scale to unlock innovation for customers and Ford.

Contact Phoebe Wall Howard at 313-222-6512or phoward@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @phoebesaid. Read more on Ford and sign up for our autos newsletter.

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Top Ford labor negotiator Gary Johnson to retire after 34 years - Detroit Free Press

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December 16th, 2020 at 12:56 am

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