Questions about Detroit's bench

December 8, 2008
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Politicians are about to step in for directors and force sweeping changes on the Detroit car companies, judging from the direction of talks in Congress.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd yesterday called for the firing of General Motors chief Rick Wagoner and said privately held Chrysler should merge.

Dodd isnâ??t alone in suggesting top managers drove the companies into the ground. But his comments raise additional questions about the depth of the companiesâ?? bench strength.

If C-level managers and even directors were to be replaced, how strong are the professionals â?? the engineers, designers, marketers, accountants â?? who would still be in their cubes and offices? In other words, as the companies lost market share and prestige over the past 30 years, did they attract college graduates who can hold their own in one of the most competitive industries in the world? Or have the Detroit Three been populated with people who wonâ??t be able to contribute to turnarounds no matter who leads them?

  • I'm glad these questions are being asked. My fear is this will be new wine in and old bottle. Substantive change is born of ideas different from those that lead to the current state of the US auto industry. Why would we assume there would be significant change if we simply give the SAME people MORE money??? It seems a C level manager who has willingly gone with the program has demonstrated they are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution. I know it can be tough (and risky) to question the status quo especially when there is a corporate culture that rewards mediocrity. Maybe some of these people can be a part of something different, sorting out the right ones cannot be done by the existing leadership.
  • Perhaps Senator Dodd is calling the kettle black. He being the leader of the Senate Finance Committee being responsible for his own actions. I say that he should be removed from his office for the same reasons. Inept begets inept His special VIP loan with Countrywide and special favors. They are all covering each other's a----.
  • Look for a Turnaround Expert. Preferably one who can stand up to the UAW andd
    get the concessions needed to bring Labor back in line with approprieate salary

    What company can make a profit while being held hostage to these kind
    of contracts. If the Union is indeed concerned for their fellow worker let's see
    a little give and take and not just a bunch of take?
  • Right on Dave, you hit this accurately. And, while Mr. Dodd is at it, he can take his little buddy, Barney Frank with him. His oversight accountability meant nothing to the voters and the damage done to the banking system. These two need to be ousted from office.
  • I used to work for a local aerospace co. which was under the UAW umbrella, and having seen what kind of crap the union did and got away with, I no longer support the unions. They protect druggies, alcoholics, laziness and all sorts of people who SHOULD NOT BE MAKING THE MONEY they do! I workded with people who were absolutely illiterate, yet they still managed to keep the job. People who would show up drunk, and continue to drink at work. Guys who would lace the cigarretts with crack so they could get their fix while at work. And the union always protected them. The facility was being painted top to bottom inside, and by contract the company was able to go out and get three bids from the outside if the union painters bid seemed high, which of course it did!! but when the bids came in the company went with the 18,000.oo $ bid because it was below the union and above the lowest of 12,000.oo $. Well, the union skilled trades complained of course so on top of paying the 18 K they ended up paying the 24 k the union bid to begin with. The stories go on and on. Let the unions crumble. NO ONE should be making 30.00 bucks an hour with over time on top to screw in a bolt then get the lavish discounts on the very cars they are over paid to make to begin with. Let them work in the real world for a while.
  • Hoosier, you are right. One of the essential ingredients of the change we need starts with a compensation restructuring beginning at the top. The unions provided some needed change when first organized and once those issues were corrected they failed to redefine their mission and the result is the huge gap between compensation and productivity, totally unsupported by the true value of the products they produce. Some of the other comments related to the political aspects are further indication of how hard it will be to turn things around. It's really sad that the only moral compass some industries and decision-makers find is the one forced on them from the outside.There is no free market without an equal amount to responsibility. We need leaders in both government and business that have this core value and the personal maturity to guide and support the future we want and need. Perhaps the current state of affairs is an uncomfortable starting point for this change of direction. Let's hope!
  • It just shows how stupid the unions are and how stupid they think we are. So what if they reduce new hires pay to 14 to 15 dollars an hour. The thousands of employees making rediculous money will still be making rediculous money, thus the hundreds who aren't, will only be working to maintain the lifestyles of the bloated entitlement mass of seniority workers, who guaranteed , will not take a pay cut to save their jobs and company. I really do not want to see anybody loose their jobs, but it is difficult to sympathize with a group of workers who make as much or more than college educated workers. And the nerve of them to THINK that our tax monies be used to bail them out. Try something novel, make a quality product and make it affordable for the people who do not work for UNIONS !!!!!! Perhaps then your jobs will be secure.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.