Suppliers expect little change in Ford's purchasing policies with Jacques Nasser as CEO.
In 1995, Ford purchasing executive Carlos Mazzorin began a four-year campaign to extract 5 percent annual price cuts. That effort continued after Nasser rose to power at Ford Automotive Operations two years ago.
Nasser has helped suppliers by coordinating Ford's product development with its purchasing policies, says one vendor.
'Nasser was able to provide focus at a higher level of management,' said John Sanderson, a vice president and account executive at Siemens Automotive Corp., an electronics supplier in Auburn Hills, Michigan. 'I didn't see new policies, per se. But I saw a lot of momentum. What we see now is a very strong and coordinated team.'
Key figures in this team, Sanderson said, besides Nasser and Mazzorin, include Richard Parry-Jones, Ford's group vice president of product development, and Neil Ressler, Ford's vice president for advanced vehicle technology.
Parry-Jones is a Nasser protege who took his current job when Nasser took over Ford Automotive Operations.
Suppliers are especially intrigued by Ford's Project Amazon, a plan to build a $1 billion assembly plant in Brazil. The effort will rely on 15 to 20 suppliers to provide component systems to the plant.
Some suppliers will be in facilities adjoining the assembly plant.
'These guys are willing to experiment,' Sanderson said. 'That's fine by me.'
Suppliers do not expect Ford to soften its demands for annual price cuts. But Nasser also appears willing to eliminate shadow engineering - in which Ford checked on suppliers by duplicating their design efforts.
Mazzorin has designated certain vendors as full-service suppliers, able to design their own components.
'I think Ford is making a big push toward purchasing component modules and systems,' said John Van Alstyne, senior vice president of sales at Freudenberg-NOK in Plymouth, Michigan.
'I see the engineering people embracing what the purchasing people are thinking.'