BOB Graziano will retire as head of Ford Australia and New Zealand on April 1.
The US-born managing director has been head of the company since November 2010 and will be replaced by Graeme Whickman, who will be the company’s fifth head in a decade.
Graziano joined Ford Australia from the company’s China division, where he was CEO and chairman, and was tasked with the unenviable job of announcing the closure of Ford’s Australian manufacturing facilities.
“Leading the team in Australia through such an important and difficult time has been an honour,” Graziano said today.
Graziano also presided over the decision for Ford to exit the V8 Supercars racing category, and pushed what he calls the “transition” from being a manufacturer to a marketing and sales company.
Three months ago, he told Wheels: “We have to take decisions based on where we’re going for the long term, and ensure that we’re investing in those areas of our business that we think customers are looking for us to have. We’ve laid that strategy out not only for you, but also for the Australian public, and we’re going to continue to work that plan.”
The choice of Graeme Whickman, currently Ford Australia’s vice-president of marketing, sales and service, follows the publicised strategy of focusing on customer service and experience as Ford aims to be “the most respected” car company in Australia.
Whickman has been with Ford for 18 years. Born in England and raised in New Zealand, he has served the company in Canada, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
Ford has suffered a decade of market decline and last year sold only 79,000 vehicles to be the nation’s fifth-best seller; its market share last year was 7.2 percent, sales having fallen 8.6 percent over the previous year.
The company’s shining light is the hot-selling Ford Ranger ute; its best performing passenger car is the Focus, which sold just 15,116 last year compared with 43,735 for the top-selling Corolla.
The news comes only weeks after Holden announced Australian expat Mark Bernhard as its third chairman and managing director in 13 months, and the sixth in seven years.
Whickman will work out of the company’s new head office when it relocates to Richmond in inner Melbourne later this year.
Ford Australia's revolving door
- Geoff Polites (1999-2004)
- Tom Gorman (2004-08)
- Bill Osborne (only seven months in the chair)
- Marin Burela (2008-10)
- Bob Graziano (2010-15)
- Graeme Whickman (from 1 April)