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Ford expands local presence with new sales HQ

Targeted: Job cuts announced in Detroit this week will hit an unspecified number of Ford Australia employees, particularly those working at its Richmond head office in Melbourne.

Broadmeadows site to be development-only facility as Ford sales team moves to town

Ford logo17 Feb 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

FORD will transform its Broadmeadows head office and engineering and design centre into an exclusive product development campus when its national sales, marketing, service and related divisions relocate to new premises in metropolitan Melbourne around mid-year.

A newly acquired Richmond office in Melbourne’s inner-east will accommodate approximately 200 employees, including Ford Australia’s top management team, freeing up the outer-suburban Campbellfield site for development, engineering and design operations only.

The iconic head office building will undergo a full refit and refurbishment before a consolidated engineering team moves in from rented office space in the surrounding area during July.

The major reshuffle draws on part of the $300 million investment by Ford for Australian expansion and development operations during 2015, and will situate the company – which is closing its manufacturing facilities next year – closer to key partners such as advertising agency JWT.

While the reconfiguring of management teams will see some geographical staff movements, Ford Australia public affairs director Wes Sherwood said the plans will not affect the company’s target employment numbers when local manufacturing winds up in October 2016.

“Our product development, design and engineering operations have been growing as has been reported before but we still target, by the time we close our plants in October of next year, that we’ll have about a 1500-strong workforce,” he said.

“As we move the marketing and sales operations, it becomes a pure product development campus and we reshape how that looks by moving people around.” Mr Sherwood said the restructure was a good opportunity to tidy up the famous headquarters which is owned by Ford, but said no decision has been made regarding the rented facilities it currently occupies on the site.

“We haven’t figured all that out yet but certainly we do plan to make sure the head office remains the iconic Ford building in the area,” he said.

“This is one of our enduring buildings and one of our venerable offices and it’ s been here for a long time, so we took the opportunity to refurbish it.” Research and testing operations at Ford’s Geelong and Lara facilities will continue unaffected by the Broadmeadows reconfiguration.

Engineering union Professionals Australia has welcomed Ford’s decision to dedicate the Broadmeadows centre to local development and says Holden will regret not making a similar commitment.

“We welcome Ford’s strong commitment to engineering and design in Australia,” said Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton.

“I imagine senior management at Holden will be wringing their hands at their lost opportunities, in closing operations and losing 600 engineers and technical staff, many of whom now seem set to take their expertise and knowledge across to their competitor.” Professionals Australia represents 23,000 engineers including automotive professionals, and Mr Walton said the significant funding and reconfiguration of Ford’s Asia-Pacific Engineering Centre helps safeguard both the future of Ford and local engineering jobs.

“This is great news for automotive engineering, great news for our economy and great news for the future of innovation and new technologies in Australia,” he said.

“Ford is leading by example and its success in this space is likely to encourage future investment from other companies in Australia’s world-class engineers.

“The expansion of the Asia-Pacific Engineering hub will ensure that Ford Australia’s product development operations remain globally competitive and will more likely to be awarded new design and engineering projects.

“We congratulate Ford on their vision – there’s no doubt it will pay dividends in the long term.”

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