Ford dealers are reacting positively to today's news that Ford Chief Executive Officer Jac Nasser has been replaced by William Clay Ford Jr. according to Jerry Reynolds, a Texas Ford dealer and chairman of the Ford Dealer Council.

Dealers have viewed their relationship with the automaker with quiet frustration. While dealers have been rather circumspect in their recent comments regarding the automaker, initiatives such as the Ford Collection, the Blue Oval Certification program along with the problems in quality have left dealers questioning Mr. Nasser's leadership of Ford Motor Company.

The results of a recent informal survey of Ford dealers, conducted by Ralph Seekins, the incoming chairman of the Ford Dealer Council, indicated that the dealers wanted to see a change in leadership or attitude at Ford Motor Company.

Mr. Reynolds tells Wards "Today is a new day. The changes are an opportunity to fix the dealer relation problems and get the quality back on track." Although, Mr. Reynolds acknowledges Mr. Nasser received more than his fair share of the blame for the deterioration in the relationship, he believes that "fixing the dealer relations could not have happened with Mr. Nasser still at the helm."

Apparently, the Ford board of directors reached the same conclusion. William Clay Ford Jr mentioned dealers when he admitted that the automaker "needs to rebuild relationships - a lot of which are broken or are not healthy."

But don't expect Mr. Ford to be concerned with only mending fences. Beginning with the Firestone/Explorer fiasco last year, the car company has been plagued with quality issues and recalls almost daily. In an effort to straighten out the current quality mess, Mr. Ford says "everything is up for review. Every asset, every strategy and every piece of geography will be looked at."

He acknowledges that Ford lost its focus recently and told employees in a meeting this morning "We will continue to concentrate our resources on our core business ā€“ designing and building the best cars and trucks in the world.ā€

In other changes also announced today, Nick Scheele, recently in charge of Ford's North American operations, will become chief operating officer of Ford. Taking Mr. Scheele's position as head of the North American operations is James Padilla, Ford's group vice president of manufacturing and quality.