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Ford  On his way: Geoff Polites takes up his new post on April 1.

On his way: Geoff Polites takes up his new post on April 1.

A star performance in Australia nets local Ford boss a top overseas job


FORD Australia president Geoff Polites has been promoted to a new position at Ford of Europe.

The man who played a key role in the mid-life makoever BA Falcon and gaining the approval of the Territory cross-over will take up the position of vice president, European sales staffs on April 1.

Polites’ replacement is Tom Gorman, who is currently the General Sales Manager of Ford Division in the U.S. He will take up the appointment from March 1.

Ford has also announced the March 1 appointment of Aussie John Crew to a new position, executive vice president, Operations.

The decision to effectively split Polites’ responsibilities is actually a reversion to more traditional Ford Australia management structure.

While Mr Gorman sits at the top of the tree, Mr Crew will have responsibility for managing customer satisfaction and quality, manufacturing, purchasing and product development.

Mr Gorman’s background is in finance, customer service and sales. In his most recent position he was responsible for sales of all Ford cars and trucks in the U.S. through more than 3800 dealers in 17 regions.

Mr Crew started at Broadmeadows as a welding engineer in 1970 and was there until 1983. Since then he has worked in other Australian plants, the USA and Great Britain. Most recently he was plant manager at Kentucky Truck in Louisville.

Mr Polites is the third local boss to depart in the last few months, with peter Hanenberger replaced by Denny Mooney at Holden and Tetsuji (Ted) Okada taking over from Ken Asano at Toyota.

Mr Polites took over as president of Ford Australia in June 1 1999 and endured the poor sales of the AU Falcon era before introducing the $500 million BA Falcon to critical and public acclaim. The company returned to profitability in calendar year 2002.

The $500 million Territory cross-over will be introduced to the Australian market on June 1 2004.

The news of his departure has not come as a total shock within Ford Australia. Mr Polites has shown strong leadership skills and a multi-faceted grasp of the business, from sales and marketing through to product.

“To say I have enjoyed my time at Ford Australia would be a major understatement,” Mr Polites said in a letter sent to the media last Friday.

“The five years I have spent here have had their moments, but I will always be enormously proud to have been a part of the success of BA Falcon and the development of the new Ford Territory, which I know will be a winner.

“I've said before that it's only once that anyone gets to work on a program of such magnitude - and it is genuinely a ground-breaking vehicle for Australia.

“I count myself very lucky to have been here during this time, and it will remain one of the most treasured memories of my career.

“As you can imagine, my enthusiasm for the new challenge is tempered by some sadness at leaving family, friends, and the organisation here that means so much to me.

“At the same time I am also very fired up about the new role and itching to get started. It's a wonderful opportunity to be part of the resurgence of Ford of Europe.”

That resurgence is going to take some work though, with company president Lewis Booth predicting losses between $US100 and $200 million are on the way this year after the company dropped $US1.1 billion in 2003.

Mr Polites reported to Mr Booth for a time when the latter was Ford’s Asia-Pacific boss.






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