The new position will take a leading role in securing Ford’s operations and improving quality and digitalisation across the supply chain. The company also announced the departures of Jonathan Jennings and Dave Bozeman
Nine months after announcing its search for a chief supply chain officer (CSCO), Ford Motor Company has appointed Elizabeth Door to the role, effective June 12. She will take the reins with a clear objective to improve quality, reduce costs, leverage product connectivity and digitalisation, whilst improving relations across the supply chain following years of disruption.
Door, who was most recently the head of global strategic sourcing for appliance maker Whirlpool, and previously held executive roles in General Motors’ global purchasing and supply chain organisation, will report to chief financial officer John Lawler, who had held CSCO responsibility since September 2022. The creation of the CSCO position is considered an important pillar of the company’s Ford+ strategy, with the objective of helping to make Ford’s supply chain a competitive advantage.
Ford has also announced that Jonathan Jennings, who had been vice-president of supply chain since March 2022, will retire effective August 1.
In a further development across Ford’s supply chain, the company announced that Dave Bozeman, vice-president of Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD), which among other things is responsible for the company’s global service parts operations, will leave Ford to become chief executive officer at logistics provider CH Robinson effective June 16. Bozeman, who has also led the Enthusiast Vehicles division for Ford Blue, had been in the role since September 1, 2022, when he replaced Frederiek Toney, who retired after ten years leading the division. He previously had a leading role at Amazon.
Ford has yet to confirm whether there will be replacements for Jennings or Bozeman.
The strategic and financial importance of the supply chain
Liz Door’s appointment coincides with Ford putting top priority on efficiency, capacity, quality and digitalisation across its supply chain. In a sign of the growing strategic significance of supply chain management for carmakers, Ford is the second major automotive OEM to name a CSCO this month, with Renault Group’s Denis Le Vot assuming the position June 1.
Last September, Ford confirmed that CFO Lawler would assume responsibilities as chief supply chain officer on an interim basis whilst the company searched for a successor. Ford, like other OEMs, had been hit by ongoing disruption to its production and supply chain, particularly following shortages in semiconductors, but also considering further supply and logistics cost and capacity challenges.
With the CFO taking direct responsibility of supply chain, the implication was clear: disruption was hitting the bottom line.
Lawler acknowledged the scale of these challenges in his comments this week on the retirement of Jonathan Jennings, who had assumed direct responsibility for supplier technical quality and assurance in September 2022. Lawler praised Jennings for his contributions in launching new vehicles, including for the Lincoln brand, and in working with hundreds of suppliers to improve manufacturing readiness. But there had been no greater challenge for Jennings and his supply chain management colleagues than what the past three years presented.
“Our industry and others have been pummelled by issues caused by the pandemic, natural disasters and extraordinary demand for new technology,” Lawler said. “Jonathan’s first-hand relationships with vendors have helped us navigate often severe limits on volumes of semiconductors, batteries and even basic parts in order to best meet the needs of customers.”
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Whilst semiconductor supply has improved this year, the carmaker has continued to face supply issues. Earlier this year, Ford was forced to suspend production of its fast-selling F-150 Lightning electric pickup for several weeks, following issues over battery safety from its cell supplier, SK On. Ford already has much higher-than-anticipated orders for the Lightning and is working to treble the production run rate of the EV pickup this year at its plant in Dearborn, Michigan to 150,000 units.
The OEM had recently made significant investments to further secure its supply chain, notably around batteries and battery materials such as lithium. Developing this supply chain will be essential as Ford aims to increase its EV production run rate to 600,000 units this year and more than 2m per year by 2026, by which time it expects to have opened new battery and EV factories in Tennessee and Kentucky.
“Our industry and others have been pummelled by issues caused by the pandemic, natural disasters and extraordinary demand for new technology. Jonathan [Jennings]’s first-hand relationships with vendors have helped us navigate often severe limits on volumes of semiconductors, batteries and even basic parts in order to best meet the needs of customers.” –John Lawler, CFO at Ford
Connectivity, control, coordination
Ford has yet to confirm the full scope of Door’s responsibilities, including the extent to which they will include direct procurement, operations or logistics. However, as chief supply chain officer, she is likely to play a central planning and coordinating function across departments, including in areas of sales and operations planning, capacity and order management, allocation, supplier quality and delivery readiness.
Lawler also drew a direct parallel to the work Door did at Whirlpool in building a supply chain around digital, connected kitchens and laundry products.
“Liz brings deep, relevant domain experience – including leveraging the Internet of Things to create great value for customers – from both outside and inside the global auto industry,” Lawler said. “That’s an ideal combination for leading a team that’s determined to restore supply chain management as a competitive advantage for Ford.”
Door pointed to opportunities to improve quality across suppliers. “Ford and our suppliers will win together by delivering fresh, high-quality products for our customers,” Door said. “We’re going to expand the use of advanced quality planning throughout the supply portfolio.”
One important element of her role, not yet confirmed, could include more central oversight of supplier and supply chain management across Ford’s divisions. According to an annual supplier survey by Plante Moran, the carmaker saw a drop in supplier relations over the past year, with suppliers pointing specifically to confusion over how to work with Ford across its separate internal combustion engine (ICE) and EV divisions, for example.
A CSCO officer could help suppliers ensure common standards and speak to one customer, whilst also ensuring efficiency and quality across operations. At Renault Group, CSCO Denis Le Vot will also assume supply chain responsibility cross the French carmaker’s separate business units, which include EV, ICE, mobility and circular economy.
“Ford and our suppliers will win together by delivering fresh, high-quality products for our customers. We’re going to expand the use of advanced quality planning throughout the supply portfolio.” –Liz Door, CSCO at Ford
Ford’s material planning and logistics
Ford has also not explicitly confirmed the implications, if any, of the CSCO on the reporting lines for Ford’s global logistics organisation, material planning and logistics (MP&L), which has been led since 2022 by global executive director Tom Chackalackal, who replaced Todd Bryant in the role after he retired.
It would appear, however, that there is at least some differentiation between the logistics organisation for Ford Blue and Model E. MP&L has historically been part of Ford’s manufacturing division, and Chackalackal is understood to report to Bryce Currie, vice-president of Americas manufacturing and labour relations for the Ford Blue division. It is not clear what distinctions would mean for logistics between ICE and EV units in practice, but Ford has said that all divisions would continue to work closely together and leverage scale and efficiency.
Other recent changes in logistics included the appointment last year of James Tod Kloeb, head of MP&L for Americas, including customs, supply chain and inbound logistics. Also within MP&L, Michael Laesch was appointed head of vehicle logistics for North America, following the retirement of Bill Mikkelsen. He reports to Brad Watkins, director of production management and distribution, a role which includes scheduling and production planning as well as vehicle logistics.