Ford general counsel, European manufacturing chief retiring amid executive shuffle – Automotive News

Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s general counsel and head of European manufacturing are retiring at the end of the year, part of a series of management changes the automaker announced today.

David Leitch, 54, who has been Ford’s general counsel since 2005, will be replaced by Bradley Gayton, 52, the corporate secretary and assistant general counsel.

“David has been a great partner and has cultivated an award-winning legal team for Ford,” CEO Mark Fields said in a statement. “David and his team also have embraced Ford’s commitment to making people’s lives better through their pro bono work and active community service.”

In Europe, Linda Cash, 53, will succeed Jeff Wood, 55, as vice president of manufacturing. Cash has been director of vehicle operations for Ford of Europe since March. Wood’s career at Ford began more than 30 years ago and included time as a manufacturing executive in North America as well.

“During his career at Ford, Jeff has made significant contributions to our manufacturing efficiencies in both the U.S. and Europe, resulting in strong quality gains and progress on our European transformation plan,” Fields said in the statement. “He also has played a key role in our truck assembly operations and delivering Ford customers with the best-selling pickups in the world.”

Ford also made three executive changes in its Asia-Pacific operations. It appointed Peter Fleet, 48, as the region’s vice president for sales and service and Bill Russo, 61, as its vice president of manufacturing.

Russo succeeds Gary Johnson, 51, who will return to the U.S. for “a special assignment related to Global Manufacturing Planning,” Ford said. Johnson has opened 10 plants in Asia Pacific in the last three years to support the automaker’s rapid growth in China and other parts of the region.

Fleet’s move is effective Dec. 1, with the rest of the changes occurring Jan. 1. Fleet’s replacement as Ford of Europe’s vice president of sales will be announced later.

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