By Jeff Gilbert

DEARBORN (WWJ) – Ford has turned to long time product development executive Hau Thai-Tang to head its $90 billion purchasing operations. He will replace Tony Brown, who has been group vice president, Global Purchasing for 11 years.

Hau is 46, and is best known for his job as chief engineer for the 2005 makeover of the Ford Mustang. He’s also run Ford’s Special Vehicle Team and its product development operations in South America. Most recently, he’s been vice president of Engineering for Ford’s product development department.

“They are brining in someone who knows what it’s like to work on a daily basis with suppliers,” said John Henke, president of the firm Planning Perspectives. “So, I suspect–in that regard–he’s going to be more empathetic to the problems they are facing in dealing with Ford.”

Henke, who conducts a yearly study of suppliers relationships with carmakers, is also an Oakland University professor. He says while Ford has been fairly “flat” in their survey in recent years, they have done a very good job over the long-term when it comes to improving their relationship with suppliers.

He says Tony Brown was a big part of that.

“He certainly got them through some very difficult periods.”

Brown was also praised by Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally.

“Tony Brown is a world-class business leader who has helped to transform Ford’s relationships with our global supplier partners,” said Mulally. “Tony’s leadership and dedication to working together have helped Ford and our supplier partners emerge from the recent global transformation of the auto industry well-positioned for future growth.”

This is part of a series of executive changes announced by Ford.

•Tony Brown, group vice president, Global Purchasing, retiring after 36-year career
•Hau Thai-Tang appointed group vice president, Global Purchasing
•Birgit Behrendt elected vice president, Global Programs & Purchasing Operations
•Burt Jordan elected vice president, Global Vehicle and Powertrain Purchasing & Supplier Diversity
•Kumar Galhotra appointed vice president, Engineering
•Trevor Worthington elected vice president, Product Development, Asia Pacific

Hau Thai-Tang will report to Ford’s Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields.

“We have a significant opportunity going forward to further realize our One Ford vision in purchasing,” Fields said. “Ford purchases $90 billion of production and non-production goods and services each year around the world. Building on his extensive global product knowledge, Hau is the right leader to take our purchasing effectiveness and efficiency to the next level and unlock the full benefits of our scale and commonality.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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