James O'Connor, a former dealership general manager who became a top Ford Motor Co. executive, is retiring after 40 years with the auto maker.
He most recently served the company as group vice president-North America marketing, sales and service.
Earl Hesterberg, vice president-Ford of Europe marketing, sales and service, will replace him.
A longtime sales and marketing executive, O'Connor considered retiring during a 2002 restructuring shuffle, but stayed on at the request of Chairman and CEO Bill Ford Jr. For that, “Ford Motor Co. will always be indebted to him,” Bill Ford says.
O'Connor started his Ford career as a field representative calling on 17 dealerships in central Florida. He then worked for Bob Kelly's Ford dealership in Atlanta from 1967-70 before rejoining the auto maker.
While traveling, whether for business or pleasure, he'd usually stop at local Ford dealerships to say hello.