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Ford product chief Phil Martens leaving for Plaste


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Ford product chief Phil Martens leaving for Plastech job
North American plant chief Matt DeMars also headed for supplier

By Amy Wilson
Automotive News / October 10, 2005

DETROIT -- Phil Martens, Ford Motor Co.’s North America product chief, is leaving the company for a leadership role at supplier Plastech Engineered Products Inc., a Ford source said Monday afternoon.

Matt DeMars, Ford’s vice president of North American vehicle operations, also is leaving the automaker for a top job at Plastech. DeMars had oversight of all Ford’s North American assembly plants.

“I can confirm that we’ve received correspondence from each of them indicating their intention to leave,” Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said Monday.

Suris wouldn’t confirm that Martens, 45, and DeMars, 48, are headed to Plastech, but another Ford insider did.

Plastech, of Dearborn, Mich., is a $1.0 billion supplier of interior trim, wiring harnesses and cockpit modules. It ranked No. 49 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America with estimated original-equipment automotive parts sales of $1 billion in 2004.

More Ford executives could be following Martens and DeMars out the door.

“Bill Ford and Mark Fields have made an assessment of the management team in the Americas, and we expect they will review certain leadership changes with our board in the very near future,” Suris said. “We would not be surprised if some people elect to leave Ford Motor Co. in the meantime. If they choose to do that, that is, of course, their decision.”

Ford Motor’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 12-13.

Realigning management has been Fields’ first priority since taking over as president of the Americas on Sept. 26.

Fields sent a communication that day that said: “Getting the right people working together as a team will be one of my first priorities. I know many of you have heard that ‘soundbite’ before. And it might sound trite. But the most successful businesses in the world have a group of individuals that knows how to operate as a team — and not solely as a function — and they have a mindset of winning despite the odds and challenges they face.”

Martens, started at Ford in 1987. He was named to his current post, group vice president of product creation, on Oct. 1, 2003.

In 1999 he was assigned to Mazda Motor Corp. to head product planning and development. There he led the redesign of the RX-8 sports car and creation of the Mazda6 sedan. The 2006 Ford Fusion, going on sale this fall, was Ford’s first major North American product developed primarily under Martens. It is based on the Mazda6.

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