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Ford's Tony Brown to retire in purchasing shuffle

By: Bradford Wernle
AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

July 15, 2013

Ford Motor Co. purchasing chief Tony Brown, who presided over the company's supply chain during the economic crisis and throughout Ford's restructuring over the past decade, is retiring after 36 years with the company.

Brown, 57, will be replaced by Hau Thai-Tang, 46, vice president of engineering, effective Aug. 1. Thai-Tang will report to Ford COO Mark Fields. Brown has headed Ford's global purchasing since July 1999. He has overseen annual global spending of more than $90 billion.

"Tony Brown is a world-class business leader who helped to transform Ford's relationships with our global supplier partners," CEO Alan Mulally said in a statement today.

Ford also said today that Birgit Behrendt, 53, executive director of global programs and purchasing for the Americas, will become a company officer and vice president global programs and purchasing operations, responsible for all regions.

Burt Jordan, 46, executive director of global vehicle and powertrain purchasing, will become a company officer and vice president of global vehicle and powertrain purchasing and supplier purchasing.

Behrendt and Jordan will report to Thai-Tang.

Brown, Behrendt and Jordan spearheaded Ford's efforts to simplify its supplier network under the banner called the Aligned Business Framework. ABF was launched in 2005 and designed to reward key vendors with global contracts as Ford make greater use of common parts in designing global vehicles.

Since then Ford has whittled down the number of production suppliers from about 3,300 to about 1,200 at the end of 2012. Ford has long-term plans to reduce that list to 750. The ABF suppliers, which are core suppliers rewarded with long-term contracts, is a much smaller list: 104.

Ford scored best of the Detroit 3 carmakers in the annual Planning Perspectives Inc. survey of automaker relations with suppliers. Ford got a C compared to C- for General Motors and Chrysler. Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota both got a B. Planning Perspectives identified Ford as the top preferred customer with whom suppliers would be willing to share new technology.

Longtime supply chain executive Tim Leuliette, currently the CEO of Visteon Corp., the one-time Ford parts unit, said Brown's "unique blend of business savvy and common sense have helped strengthen Visteon's relationship with Ford during challenging times.

"We're excited about the opportunity to work with Hau Thai-Tang, whose global experience and perspective align very well with our footprint, technology and value-creating strategy," he said.