The Central U.S. is a vast stretch of land that runs from Grand Forks to New Orleans and encompasses about 20 states. Managing this geographically and industrially diverse territory for Ford Motor Co.’s commercial sales division is Todd Farabee, who manages a nine-person team of national account managers from his offices at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Mich.
Farabee is new to the position but a 21-year veteran of the company. He has served in myriad roles in numerous divisions and multiple states. He spent his first years in manufacturing, starting with a supervisory role at Ford’s Rawsonville, Mich., components plant in 1997 before advancing to a series of positions, through multiple Ford plants, that tested his problem-solving skills.
Farabee believes those years in manufacturing honed his ability to cultivate strong relationships at a critical point in his career, having had to earn the trust of plant management and the United Automobile Workers team. He hopes that experience, among others, will serve him well as he prepares for a new chapter on the fleet side.
“It’s the exact same thing — the interaction with the plants is the same as the interaction if you’re a field rep calling on dealers and customers,” Farabee said. “It is all about the communication.”
Experience with Ford
While Farabee got his start on the manufacturing side of the industry and now works in commercial sales, he had a number of stops in between. He took a “hard turn” into marketing and sales in 2003, serving as a brand specialist and then field manager in Chicago. He then moved back to Dearborn in 2007 before relocating to Seattle a year later; a year after that, he was in Irvine, Calif., working in a sales and inventory management role for the Western region.
In 2011, Farabee left the sales division to join Ford’s customer service division as parts and service operations manager, moving him to Orlando, Fla., where he would spend the next four years digging into the intricacies of fixed ops.
“That was a complete change of pace for me from the sales side,” he said. “It was a bit of a hard change from one side of the business to another, but it all came down, again, to relationships — helping our customers through service issues and helping our dealer partners to deliver their priorities.”
In April 2015, Farabee returned to Dearborn as sales operations coordinator and then U.S. distribution coordinator for field operations, where his communication skills were put to the test once again. “Basically, we are the filter for all initiatives rolled out to the Ford field team and the liaison to our internal business partners and business owners. Whether it’s working with the marketing team or an IT issue, it all flows through the field operations organization. We established communication and we managed the message and timing for the key initiatives being communicated.”
Farabee led the execution of the monthly retail and wholesale strategy to field teams and dealers. He studied strategy, helped work through issues and concerns, helped draft the messaging that went out, and made sure the supporting documentation to successfully execute each process was available when and where it was needed.
“That’s where I was able to transition to this current job,” said Farabee. “I was presented the opportunity, and I said I was absolutely, 100% interested; the fact that it is so completely different from the retail business. Our customers in the commercial space have a choice. If we don’t treat them right, other OEMs are actively trying to conquest the business. Product, service, people — it is our job to understand our customers’ priorities and build strong relationships. That’s real selling to me and I am very excited about that.”
The Central Region Team
The Central region is powered by a wildly diverse collection of customers that Farabee said he is looking forward to getting to know better. He will be working with fleet managers and business owners in such industries as agriculture, insurance, pharmaceutical, retail, package delivery, healthcare, and communications, among others.
Farabee will manage the Central region with the help of nine national account managers. He stressed that each manager has a proven track record of dedication to and focus on customer service and adding value, ensuring their customers succeed in whatever mission their individual fleets need to accomplish. In fact, the new position has given Farabee the chance to reconnect with old colleagues on the fleet team with whom he has worked in other capacities.
“At some point in my career, I’ve worked indirectly or directly with many of the Central region team members. That, to me, is exciting. I don’t feel like I’m walking into an unfamiliar situation with unfamiliar people,” Farabee said. “This team is doing a great job of growing the business and staying in touch with our valued customers, and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Taking on the challenge of the Central region is a homecoming of sorts for Farabee as well. He grew up in Farmington Hills and graduated from Michigan State University. As a second-generation Ford employee, he has a legacy to maintain as he progresses through his Ford career. For the moment, however, his focus is on the many Central U.S. fleet customers with whom he has yet to connect.
“I’m just excited to get out and meet the customers. I am ready to spend time with the team and really understand the needs of these customers.”