Chairman Emeritus, Northwood University Board of Trustees; Director, Crain Communications Inc/Automotive News – Bloomfield Hills, MI
J Ferron’s involvement with Northwood University spans three decades beginning with his authorship of business management guides that were chosen to be used as part of its curricula. After joining the university’s Board of Trustees he played leadership roles on its strategic governance committees and was ultimately elected Chairman in 2008, a position in which he served four terms.
A torch bearer for the Northwood Idea from the university’s earliest days, Ferron is a prescient author and an industry thought leader relating to innovation and new business models. A personal friend of both founders Arthur Turner and Gary Stauffer, his 30-year automotive career has led him to be directly involved with many challenging industry issues affecting manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and consumers by leading and devising global strategies and working to improve innovation practices.
Ferron graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1968 and then went onto pilot training in Texas. There, he met Lynn, his wife of 43 years, whom he married after his first Vietnam tour where he volunteered for a prime combat assignment as forward air controller. After they were wed, he went back to Vietnam, ultimately flying over 350 sorties. He was awarded The Distinguished Flying Cross and The Air Medal with six oak leaf cluster awards.
After leaving the Air Force, Ferron earned a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University while simultaneously beginning his career in the automotive industry as an economist with the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA). In this role he created the Dealership Attitude Survey, a tool that continues to guide industry relations improvements, expanded the dealership operations group with a variety of new services, and founded the NADA Dealer Candidate Academy that has graduated over 8000 dealership successors since 1979.
As the first Vice President of NADA, Ferron co-authored the book, “Betting on the Franchise – Car & Truck Retailing into the 1990’s,” which foresaw the unbundling of dealership facilities, public ownership of dealership chains, industry distribution consolidation, and consumer buying changes. With over 400 NADA staff members reporting to him on federal and state government regulatory issues, he also served on congressional advisory panels addressing small business tax challenges, electric vehicles, and energy issues.
Ferron and his family were lured west in 1988 to what was then a small research company known as J.D Power and Associates (JDP&A). There, he became a senior partner handling corporate legal issues and was also Managing Director of the group’s Tokyo joint-venture company. At JDP&A he launched the consulting group known as International Roundtable, and led the brand management strategy that quickly made J. D. Power a trusted name globally.
Ferron was recruited to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) in 1995. Leading the America’s Automotive Consulting Practice addressing top supply, vehicle assembly, retail distribution and financial issues, he managed globally dispersed consulting teams for distributors and retailers. He was deeply involved with major industry events including the Daimler Chrysler merger before and after it became public.
After retiring from PwC he was selected to be Director of Judging for the Automotive News PACE Awards for Innovation where he directs an independent panel of nearly 30 industry experts who annually research global automotive companies to identify and validate the best “game changing” process or product innovations. Each spring they present these “Academy Awards” for global innovation.
J and his wife Lynn, a Northwood Distinguished Woman, live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. They are both involved in local and national charitable efforts. J was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from Northwood University in 1999. Both of their sons attended Northwood.
*All biographical information is only current up to the date of the award.