Earl Hesterberg, after a short stint as group vice president-North America marketing, sales and service for Ford Motor Co., becomes president and CEO of Group 1 Automotive Inc., a big dealership chain based in Houston, TX.

Hesterberg, 51, had been at his Ford position since Jan. 1. He succeeded the retired Jim O'Connor.

Steve Lyons, 56, Ford division president for the last three years, assumes Hesterberg's responsibilities and title immediately.

At Group 1, Hesterberg will lead one of the nation's largest dealership chains with revenues of $5.4 billion in 2004.

He replaces B.B. Hollingsworth Jr., a Group 1 co-founder and CEO since 1996. Hollingsworth is retiring but will remain with the company as a member of the board of directors.