A year in, Farley has Ford on the move

Farley’s first year at the helm has not been without headaches.

While the microchip shortage has affected the entire industry, Ford has been hit especially hard, leaving many of its dealership lots effectively bare.

That’s because Ford cut back orders for chips, underestimating how quickly sales would bounce back after the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. It also relied heavily on Renesas, a chip supplier that in March suffered a fire at its main production facility.

Beyond that, Ford’s much-hyped Bronco has been delayed by quality issues blamed on roof supplier Webasto. The Mustang Mach-E crossover has had some early recalls, including one for windshields that could fly off on the road.

Lawler says Farley’s strategy around such issues is to be transparent and implement changes quickly.

“He takes a very pragmatic approach, like ‘Look, this is what’s going on, how can we best manage it?’ ” Lawler said.

Ford already has altered how it will source semiconductors in the future. It worked closely with Webasto to identify the cause of the Bronco roof issue and has offered disgruntled owners gifts and discounts on future purchases.

Andrew Frick, Ford’s vice president of U.S. and Canada sales, said Farley often gives his teams room to handle production snags or other issues but will step in to ask, “How can I help you do your job better?”

In most cases, Frick said, Farley tries to keep the company focused on his longer-term plans.

“We’ve not cut back any investments for our future because of what we’re facing in the short run,” he said. “Jim’s been very principled on that.”

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