Vines out, Vella in as Ford shakes up management

DETROIT: Hand-in-hand with William Clay Ford Jr.'s installation as

Ford's new CEO, Jim Vella, executive director of corporate

communications, is poised to take the top job of VP, corporate

communications.



His likely appointment follows the ousting of Jason Vines, who was

deposed CEO Jac Nasser's right-hand man. An official announcement of

Vella's promotion is expected early this week.



Vella has experience working with new CEO Ford Jr., a qualification

considered a must by Ford observers. He will need to deal with the media

fallout over the very public rift between Ford and Nasser, forced out of

the company last week.



Rumors of Nasser's expulsion had been circulating in auto circles for

months. A series of setbacks, including the Ford-Firestone tire

controversy, quality problems with Ford models, and falling profits, had

tarnished Nasser over the past two years.



While Ford Jr. initially stayed in the background during the Firestone

battle, he began raising his visibility this year as talk circulated

that the Ford family was becoming increasingly concerned about Nasser's

handling of tough issues.



Ford Jr., in some of his first public comments since taking over the top

spot, said that he plans to address basic issues of profitability and

quality. He appointed Nick Scheele, formerly head of Ford Europe and

known as "Mr. Fix-It" for the work he did turning Jaguar around, as his

new COO, a move that garnered favorable media reaction.



Vella will need to position Ford Jr. as taking decisive action to right

the company's recent wrongs. The new CEO is well-regarded in auto

circles, and has even garnered friends in the environmental movement by

calling for Ford to make its vehicles more energy-efficient.



Internally, Vella will need to address issues of worker morale brought

on by ongoing cost-cutting and workforce reductions initiated by

Nasser.



Ford generally handles tough PR challenges internally, having no agency

of record, although it has used agencies such as Strat@comm and John

Bailey & Associates for various products or divisions.



Vella's chief rival for the top spot was Joe Greenwell, VP of

communications and public affairs with Ford Europe. His ties to Scheele

caused his name to surface as a possible successor to Vines.



VELLA'S PROGRESS



- Joined in 1988 as a producer for the Ford Communications Network,

overseeing employee TV programs



- Progressed through Ford's public affairs department, holding such

positions as broadcast news manager, regional news manager for the

Northeast, and director of public affairs for Ford's global

manufacturing operations



- Named executive director of corporate communications in June 2000,

after serving as director of global operations for public affairs.



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