By on June 16, 2009

If it walks like a lame duck, talks like a lame duck . . . . During an interview with Fritz Henderson, the New York Times asked the GM CEO if the bankrupt automaker needed someone from outside GM to inject a little fresh blood. Fritz didn’t care for the insinuation. “Carlos Ghosn was no outsider [when he turned around Nissan]. Lee Iacocca wasn’t an industry outsider when he took over at Chrysler.” That’s right, Fritz, but neither of them had spent their entire working life sipping the corporate Kool-Aid at the company they saved. You, on the other hand, have never tasted any flavor but GM Grape. As former GM Director and current behind-the-scenes talent spotter Jerry York points out, “Fritz might be 20 percent better than Wagoner, or maybe 50 percent better, but the question is, is that good enough?” Talk about damned by faint praise . . . What’s the bet that the new, government-appointed BOD’s answers “no” after they “evaluate whether Mr. Henderson deserves to hold his job more permanently”? Place your wagers on Henderson’s defenestration date below.

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13 Comments on “GM CEO Fritz Henderson Going, Going, Ghosn?...”


  • avatar
    commando1

    Fritz had dinner with Barney Frank last night. He’ll be there a while.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My vote[if I had one] would be,keep Fritz,for now. Right,he is a product of GM culture,but he also knows GM.I give Fritz 6 months minimum.If with some skillfull management,and a whole lot of luck,things turnaround. Fritz just might suprise a lot of folks.

    If not,Fritz won’t be around in 2010.

  • avatar
    Corky Boyd

    The bestof th ebest to run GM is Roger Penske. He knows GM from the outside, from his Chevy dealerships and from Penske Automotive. He nursed Detroit Diesel(was dying under GM) back to health before he sold it to Daimler.

    But you aren’t going to get quality like him at $500,000/year, which is the government cap. Hell, there are proctologists who make more than that. Wake up Obama!

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Corky Boyd You coudn’t pay me enough to be a Proctogist

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The whole insider/outsider debate interests me.

    In every business I’ve seen there seems to be this belief that the top decision makers can have almost no experience with the company or products the company they run make. This Harvard Business School led idea that strategic decisions can be made from the confines of a board room based on “data” filled powerpoint presentations is killing companies.

    On the other hand, 40-year company veterans who have risen to the top through the attrition of good ideas (I think a valid argument could be made that s*** floats at GM since those with innovative ideas left long ago out of frustration) doesn’t seem to work either.

    GM needs pragmatic leadership with a solid understanding of automobile manufacturing and marketing… to see through the BS contained in all of those powerpoint presentations. They need someone who will not only walk the dealer lots and manufacturing lines but will actually listen to what those at the front lines are saying… and not in the obligatory and dismissive way they have in the past. The problem is that those at the top of GM have been living insular lives for far too long and have too many favors to return and backs to scratch. They also seem to have a real inability to come up with ideas that haven’t been tried before… after all, the organization has rarely rewarded those who took chances.

  • avatar
    jpcavanaugh

    I continue to wonder what is going on behind the curtain. With Chrysler, it was always understood that the company was not viable without an outside partner. Enter Fiat, and the plan was in play from almost the moment the Bankruptcy was filed.

    GM, according to the conventional wisdom (though not necessarily among the B&B) is capable of reorganization. Still, the plan is supposed to be for a new company to swoop in and grab all of the worthwhile assets that will comprise the New GM. So everyone, where is the knight on the white steed? It is starting to look like the task force is quietly shopping the general around. Why else would the feds be dragging their feet about the Newco that is to start the GM resurgence? They have had months to put a new company and new management together, yet GM continues to be GM, even under the reorganization that does not seem to be happening yet. So, what gives?

    And to answer your question, I predict that under either scenario, Fritz will be gone by July 30.

  • avatar
    Lee

    @ commando1 : Fritz is gay too?

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Count me among those who think Fritz will last awhile. He’s a financial guy, and so are the PTFOA members. They all think it’s a financial problem, and it’ll take time and failure for them to realize GM’s problems go far beyond the financial end. When that happens, the next target will be management, and Fritz’s earlier statement that no management changes were necessary will be the reason for his dismissal. I’d give him until the 2010 models tank in the marketplace.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Maybe GM is too big to be run by any single person?

    And I expect Roger Penske and other gurus have the sense to refuse the call-up.

  • avatar
    Jaywalker

    I vote the Goverment Motors real owners will keep Fritz on for morale purposes and signal an early retirement for him. I don’t expect he’ll keep much real authority, though.

  • avatar

    Does GM need a superhero? Buickman has The Plan

    By Edward Lapham
    Automotive News / May 10, 2005

    COMMENT
    Edward Lapham is the executive editor of Automotive News. He writes commentaries for Automotive News online every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    Kirk Kerkorian and Jerry York may or may not have a secret agenda for General Motors. But Kerkorian does have a copy of “The Plan for a Return to Greatness,” sent to him by its author as soon as Kerkorian let the world know he wants to own about 9 percent of GM’s stock.

    OK, we don’t know what Kerkorian has done with his very own copy of “The Plan for a Return to Greatness,” but maybe he should take a look.

    That author is 47-year-old Jim Dollinger, a second-generation car salesman and general manager of Suski Chevrolet/Buick in Birch Run, Mich., near Flint. Dollinger calls himself Buickman because he says he’s been the best-selling Buick salesman in America for six consecutive years. He’s also something of a shareholder gadfly who has attended every GM annual meeting since 1982.

    Buickman isn’t shy … or modest … or afraid to speak his mind.

    He’s an outspoken critic of GM’s leadership and has a Web site to carry his message far and wide, GeneralWatch.com. For the record, he also was a critic of Ron Zarrella and initially a big fan of Bob Lutz, though that has faded.

    Through the magic of e-mail, Buickman has blanketed much of the civilized world with portions of The Plan, which he has been developing since 1997. All he wants to do is get GM off the fire-sale, deal-of-the-month rollercoaster. And he’ll probably tout his ideas at GM’s annual meeting June 7 in Wilmington, Del.

    He has sent what he says are the first 20 points of The Plan to GM execs, GM retirees, GM shareholders, GM dealers, suppliers, Wall Street analysts and any journalist who has written about GM in the last couple of years.

    Buickman sends it with the stipulation that specific points of The Plan must not be revealed because The Plan is so potent he doesn’t want it to fall into the hands of the competition.

    That may sound goofy, but it ain’t a bad plan. Some of it ought to work.

    Several of his 20 points are no-brainers that wouldn’t cost a dime to implement. Some would even save GM a couple of bucks here and there.

    His ideas tend to be marketing, merchandising, selling or training techniques that have worked for him at the dealership level and which he believes can be extrapolated to work nationally for GM’s brands.

    There is nothing radical or magical about his recipe, although another dollop of new product wouldn’t hurt.

    So if The Plan is so hot, why won’t GM’s brass listen?

    Well, some have, even though the Buickman’s unflinching, testy attitude toward GM management hasn’t made it easy to deal with him or even meet him halfway. But at least a few are prepared to hear him out.

    There’s another bump in the road. Buickman wants to save GM and restore the automaker’s greatness, but he also wants to get paid for it, like a consultant. That includes an upfront fee.

    That’s probably reasonable. If The Plan rebuilds GM’s market share, which nobody else has been able to do, why shouldn’t he be rewarded?

    Even if The Plan doesn’t restore five points of market share, at least he has a plan, as the Buickman likes to point out.

  • avatar

    CAR SALES CHAMP CRUSADES TO RAISE PROFITS FOR GM
    Ed Garsten

    First comes the mile-wide smile, followed by the warm handshake and then the barrage of bromides like “waterfalls begin with raindrops.” The next thing you know, Jim Dollinger has your attention, your trust and finally your money. A six-time national Buick sales champ, the 46-year old father of seven girls has minted a simple philosophy “pay attention and meet customer needs rather than dwell on price” to become a Mr. Fixit of sorts for underachieving dealerships. Now he wants to do the same for the company that builds the cars he sells, General Motors Corp.

    Early this year, Dollinger met at the automaker’s headquarters with GM North America President Gary Cowger and John Smith, GM’s sales and marketing group vice president. After hearing Dollinger’s ideas, they offered him $5,000 for the rights to his proposals. He turned it down, saying his ideas are worth much more than five grand. “This is something that’s worth billions to the company, billions to the stockholders with no investment,” Dollinger said.

    Aside from managing hundreds of new car customers, he’s been the general manager at Suski Chevrolet Buick in Birch Run, MI for a year now. In 2002, he was hired to fix Williamson Buick in Flint. He promptly changed the name to Patsy Lou Buick “to feminize it” and make the showroom more hospitable to women. Sales increased 60 percent in a year, Dollinger said. His magic is working at Suski Chevrolet Buick. Sales jumped 80 percent in March, 60 percent in April and are on track to improve a whopping 125 percent in May, said new car sales manager Brad Goldman. “He pays a lot of attention to the customer” Goldman said of Dollinger. “He’s a go-getter, lights a fire and always pushes us.”

    Dollinger won’t divulge all the specifics of his plan for healing GM, which once dominated with more than 50 percent of the U.S. market but now controls just 27 percent. But he says GM must bolster its image by cutting back and simplifying incentives and refine and enhance its product lines so that more people aspire to own them, remove members of the board of directors who are tied to investment banks, reduce executive compensation and give dealers more autonomy to do their own advertising and marketing.

    “Without spending money, without capital investment and by actually lowering costs, I can implement this plan, increase market share, build for profit, reposition for growth and reposition this organization,” Dollinger said. He’s “an interesting guy” said Suski’s Brad Goldman.

    Some 100 shareholders are expected to show up for GM’s annual meeting, where Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will outline the company’s recent achievements and its goals. Among seven shareholder proposals, one would create an outside chairman independent of the chief executive officer post, eliminate new stock option grants to top management and require GM “significantly reduce” greenhouse emissions from its vehicles by 2013 and 2023.

    GM’s board of directors has recommended none of the stockholder proposals be approved. For supersalesman Jim Dollinger, however, the only proposals that matter are those he never stops thinking about…returning GM to the days of market dominance and big profits. “I don’t hunt, fish or golf,” Dollinger said. “I’m a single-minded man of purpose, and I’m here to make a difference.”

    (The Detroit News June 3, 2004)

  • avatar
    mikey

    If it was up to me Jim, aka Buickman would be on the payroll tomorrow.Tie his compensation to market share.

    Nothing ventured,nothing gained eh?


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