By on November 13, 2009

(courtesy autoblog.com)

In four day’s time, my byline will appear on this website for the last time. During the previous nine-and-a-half years, I’ve watched the mainstream automotive press slowly evolve from paid cheerleader to . . . nope that’s it. No progress there. Despite having written literally thousands of diatribes against the media’s willful ignorance on the auto industry, I’m still galled that people who call themselves professional journalists have such little moral fiber and testicular fortitude. Only more so, now that GM and Chrysler’s endless turnaround promises have been revealed as a combination of epic self-delusion, outright lying and near-as-dammit criminal conduct (e.g. we never got the bottom of that SEC accounting case). This morning’s Detroit Free Press continues the tradition. “GM Chairman Ed Whitacre clear he’s in driver’s seat” is the worst kind of non-journalism—the kind that enables the rape of the American taxpayer by a bunch of egocentric incompetents.

More than four months on the job as General Motors’ chairman, Ed Whitacre has sent several clear signals about who is in charge: Ed Whitacre.

The board, under Whitacre’s direction, last week undid the deal crafted under Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson to sell Germany-based Opel. Then, this week, Whitacre suggested GM might not become publicly traded again as quickly as Henderson and other GM officials had suggested.

Writer Tim Higgins’ puff piece paints Whitacre as an “activist” Chairman of the Board. Which is both true and a major uh-oh, especially for anyone who thinks a Board of Directors should approve major corporate decisions before they’re made. In the examples above, Whitacre reversed Henderson’s decisions. In other words, Whitacre gave his CEO enough rope to hang himself—then lost patience and strung-him-up.

To his credit, Higgins tries to signal the fact that there’s some loose artillery rolling around RenCen, albeit via a “longtime insider.”

“He’s a very hands-on guy. I really question how long before he just wants to call all of the shots himself,” a longtime insider said.

After highlighting Whitacre’s monomaniacal aspirations via a fictional source, Higgins feels obliged to do the fair and balanced thing via another composite character.

“A tight grip” by Whitacre “and an activist board do not equal a lack of confidence in management,” a veteran GM executive said.

Of course not. So much so (not so?) that Higgins felt compelled to throw in this little tidbit.

A GM spokeswoman noted Thursday that Whitacre has stated that Henderson has the full support of the board.

Obviously; provided you define “full support” as public humiliation. But there’s only so much faux insider analysis a writer can rely upon before even the most Kool-Aid quaffing camp follower feels the urge to Google “Jayson Blair.” And so Higgins gives us the plain facts surrounding Whitacre’s guardianship of our $52 billion “investment” in the nationalized automaker. No wait; sorry. Anecdotes.

During meetings with midlevel executives, he has balked at GM’s PowerPoint culture.

“I hope you didn’t bring charts,” Whitacre said at one such meeting to a group of executives who had, of course, arrived with a stack of charts.

“I want to get to know you,” Whitacre explained in his heavy Texas drawl, according to one GM insider.

OK, that’s creepy. And as much as I agree that GM’s culture is a stunning example of PowerPoint putrefaction, the flip side of factoids is not warm fuzzies.

Is Higgins really suggesting that Whitacre puts people ahead of profits? ‘Cause as much as I believe in the sanctity of human careers, you kinda need a handle on the numbers to do that take-in-more-money-than-you spend thing. And if Whitacre is such a people person, why hasn’t he fired anyone? LaNeve? O.K., how about all the rest?

By now you’re probably thinking I’m being hysterical; Higgins is simply telling it like it is. Here comes the serious fluff.

On a visit to GM’s Arlington, Texas, assembly plant, Whitacre — who retired as AT&T CEO and chairman — sounded more like a car guy than a phone guy.

The plant’s union president, Enrique Flores, UAW Local 276, told members in a recent note that Whitacre “stated that he personally believes the Escalade should remain a rear-wheel drive, framed vehicle, not a crossover type of vehicle.”

Under the old GM, one would be hard pressed to find board members wandering the assembly lines, talking about vehicle platforms with UAW members.

It’s a good thing that Whitacre doesn’t want to make the Escalade into a crossover; Cadillac already has one. Anyway, I’d be a hell of a lot more impressed with Eddy’s car guy chops if he talked to, I dunno, car guys. Or, God forbid, customers. Hey! How about hanging-out with customers for other brands? Or talking with automotive journalists? If not to pick their brains, then to reaffirm the company’s commitment to transparency.

GM has so far declined Free Press requests to interview Whitacre one on one.

And there you have it: the guy who’s really making the decisions at GM these days won’t talk to the press. I guess he prefers to let Henderson take the fall do the talking. It’s such an important point, Higgins makes it twice.

In several interviews with reporters, Whitacre has voiced support for Henderson. He also has said he’s gaining more optimism for GM’s future. “As Mr. Whitacre has stated several times, Mr. Henderson has the full support of the board,” GM spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem said.

“We are getting into fighting shape. We’re not there yet. We still have a long way to go, but we are definitely on our way,” Whitacre said this week.

Good old GM. It’s always on its way somewhere. Make that “oblivion.”

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37 Comments on “Between The Lines: Freep’s Whitacre Whitewash...”


  • avatar
    John Horner

    All these years of complaining about GM’s Board of Bystanders, and now suddenly the board is too involved? Don’t forget, Whitacre had nothing to do with choosing Fritz as Interim CEO. That one is on Rattner.
    Selling off Opel was a stupid idea, and I”m glad GM has a chairman who put a stop to stupid.
    So what is Whitacre doesn’t do press interviews. Carly Fiornia drove HP into the dirt, but was always chatting up the press. (Now she wants to be California’s Senator, ugh!) Carly’s replacement Mark Hurd is rarely in the news,  and has been doing a better job than Carly ever could have dreamed of.
     

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Makes me laugh when I read about Henderson having “the full support of the board”. Yeah, right, you betcha sweetie. What else is Whitacre supposed to say with Henderson still on board? Actions speak much louder than words and obviously Henderson and Whitacre are not even close to being on the same page. Any guesses as to which one of them survives? Bye bye Fritz, the sooner the better.

  • avatar

    John,
    All these years defending Detroit, and you can’t see the problem here?
    1. A Board of Directors that yanks management’s chain AFTER they craft and just about implement a plan to ditch Opel, conserve their/our cash and mount a much-needed retreat? How much did it cost GM in legal fees to put that deal together in the first place?
    2. Whitacre could have have fired Fritz in a heartbeat. Wait! He still can! And by God, he should.
    3. GM is owned by the taxpayers of the United States in Canada. if the Chairman of the Board is calling the shots—which he clearly is—he should keep faith with his “stock holders.” Transparency starts at the top. Or not.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      1) So…the sale to Opel goes through, even though it’s a prescription for disaster, because of all the work that had been done and money spent? That’s like going through with a house purchase that you shouldn’t make because you’ve invested time and money in the process. Whitacre made a tough call. I respect that.

      2) It’s clear Henderson – who you’ve lambasted countless times – is in the process of being forced out. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? What’s the difference if he gets fired or “resigns”?

      3) Nothing in this article shows that Whitacre is not keeping faith with the taxpayers. He’s clearly usurping power from the “old guard,” which ran the company into the ground. How is this NOT a good thing?
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “All these years defending Detroit … “
      You must be joking.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    As long as the union gets what it wants and the GM execs show that they care and are trying, it doesn’t matter if the company can’t turn a profit and they continue to hide from the reality of actual stock holder/investor judgment by avoiding the IPO.

    They all still get a trophy just like the kiddie soccer teams in suburbia. Cooperation, diversity, communication, green goals, good intentions…not profit.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So, Whitacre is apparently bent on changing things at GM. This is a bad thing?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I agree with John above.
     
    Other than allowing himself to be the face of GM in advertising (which gives the impression of collusion) I think Whitacre’s activism, and the hanging Henderson out to dry is probably a good idea, if more than a little selfish.
     
    One, it sends a message to other GM insiders that they need to change how they do things.  Under Fischer’s (or earlier) BoD, the autonomy given the GM executive resulted in a Yes-Man culture that ensured nothing was ever questioned.  Now, we have a CEO who is, publicly, being questioned.  That should get some of the brighter middle managers thinking that now might be a good time to start doing things the right way, rather than the way that makes GM’s erstwhile Best & Brightest look good.  Anything that cracks GM’s notoriously sick culture is a good thing.
     
    Two, it makes Henderson an easy fall-guy for all that’s wrong with GM and significantly eases the job of whoever comes in next.  Instead of being handed one of the most outsider-hostile, CYA-heavy, sycophantic organizations in existence, Mr/Ms CEO-to-be-named-later gets a team of newly-enabled people who have been shown by the board that the intention is to do things right, not just tow the line.
     
    The end result is that Whitacre comes off as the next Lou Gerstner and gets to live comfortably off autobiography sales and speaking engagements.

    I think we’re seeing the middle of the chess game, here.

  • avatar

    FreedMike
    Some things need changing. Some things don’t. Some things can be changed. And some can’t. Knowing which is which is the essence of leadership.
    Let me be clear: Whitacre hasn’t made the one change he should have made: firing Fritz and his cast of lifers. Whitacre has made the one change he shouldn’t have made: killing the Opel deal.
    Once again, GM’s management style is somewhere between half-assed (keep Buick?) and half-cocked (yes IPO, no IPO). Only this time, it’s not Wagoner calling the tune. At least Wagoner spoke to the press.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Ah, so now we get the crux of the thing. You think selling Opel was a good idea. I think it was a bad idea.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      RF – He’s doing everything that you’ve bitched and bitched that the board should have been doing and now that it’s being done it’s wrong?   I mean come on, do you just walk around in life making major decisions with just a couple seconds of thought put into it (marriage, car, house, etc)?  Is that the way you are saying the a corporation should be run?  Or perhaps is it maybe just alittle bit better to take a FEW months and learn the business and the problems facing it before you get the eraser out? 

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      What we have here is the difference between what some might find emotionally satisfying – “can ‘em all” – and the way things really get done. Henderson and his gang are clearly on the way out; in the end, does it matter if Whitacre cans them Trump-style, or forces them out?

      The business reality is that Whitacre also might need these guys to run the company until he can find people to replace them. Just because there hasn’t been some corporate burning at the stake – which I’m sure would satisfy a lot of peoples’ hatred of GM – doesn’t mean that Whitacre isn’t changing things.

      Read up on Whitacre sometime. The guy’s a force to be reckoned with.

  • avatar
    ekay

    Robert…perhaps 4 days more is too long?
    Turning around the Titanic is a long term project…throwing the guys overboard who know how the ship operates before you have others to do it is foolhardy.
     
    GM got (via the taxpayer) the financial do-over they needed…now its time to make decisions that won’t lead to a second sinking. Is it any coincidence that no big name mgmt outsider has been brought in and the ‘Pay Czar’ announces today that the $500k limit for TARP babies won’t be applied to New Blood?
     
    Additionally, your stance on Opel is ill-informed. Giving away Opel means dumping the most technically competent development team in the company. Daewoo will develop what? The US teams were gutted of small car expertise years ago, what would they do? Selling Opel made no sense. Restructuring Opel as a development center that happens to produce a few hundred K vehicles in high wage Europe is the only play for GM.

  • avatar
    mikey

     So the Freep dude is a bit of a homer? Lets cut the guy some slack.  As a retired  GM hourly guy living  in a GM town, I don’t want to read/watch/hear any more doom and gloom. Even if it is true. Maybe the guys boss has figured that out and passes his thoughts/orders down to his writers.

     Journalistic integrity is all good and fine,but you can’t eat it and won’t pay the rent.

     Good luck Robert,  It’s been a slice.

     

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Journalistic integrity is all good and fine,but you can’t eat it and won’t pay the rent.

      Which is one of the reasons many newspapers are in such craptastic shape financially. And why the word “pimpatorial” was invented.

      For the informed consumer, the scam is now quite transparent. Repeating over and over that cars (the largest consumer purchase outside a home), car dealers, and automotive manufacturers are all above average, ethical businessmen doesn’t make it true. It just cancers up your media brand.

  • avatar
    YotaCarFan

    I think GM should keep Opel.  Opel’s engineering led to the Chevy Malibu, which is the first GM product I’ve seen in a decade that looks half decent in terms of styling and function.  GM’s other engineering shop, Daewoo, is mostly experienced developing small cars, and GM needs medium/large car expertise (Opel) in addition to small car expertise.  Keeping both companies, if financially doable, makes sense.

    As far as what GM’s current CEO is doing regarding personnel shake ups: As an earlier commenter pointed out, there may be underlying political constraints he’s dealing with that necessitate he do the reorg in a piecemeal roundabout way. Corporate politics are tricky, and it’s not always possible for a leader to do certain things or do things as fast as they’d like, even if they are in a senior position that may appear to lend them that authority. Remember, GM is “owned” by the Govt, and the CEO may be getting pressure/demands from them regarding how he conducts business.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Mr. Farago:

    I agree with your take 100 per cent. Plus add that whoever in government is nominally in charge of the GM file wake up and see what’s going on. It’s quite unseemly for execs in a nationalized company to publicly disagree with each other, especially when it involves a foreign government.

  • avatar

    Whitacre’s clearly signaled his intention to stick with Fritz and Co., which he’s done for four months. Sure, he might throw them all under the bus eventually. Probably will. But every day that these losers are in charge makes it that much harder for someone else to do what ought to be done, such as killing everything but Chevy and Caddy. The clock is ticking. Our money is burning.
    If you ascribe Whitacre’s failure to clear the deadwood as some kind of learning curve, ask yourself this: why didn’t the Presidential Task Force on Automobiles appoint a Chairman with enough knowledge to hit the ground running? As I said, the clock is ticking.
    As for ditching Opel, do we really believe that an allegedly American car company can’t design, engineer and build world-class cars without Germany’s help? Where the hell is America’s can-do spirit? If it’s my tax money (and it sure as hell is), I’d at least want “New” GM to try to be a real American car company.
    And Mike, thanks for being honest about the blinders.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Whitacre has be doing the right things.  He can’t hire a new CEO worth hiring with the pay restrictions.  Till then, what do you expect him to say?  If he says he is going to fire him, who is going to listen to him?  It would be very disfuntional.  Second, Whitacre does need some insights into the industry and the company so that he can make the right decisions on who to keep and who to let go.
       
      I also disagree with your reasons for letting Opel go.  It doesn’t have anything to do with who can design a car.  GM would be losing Western Europe if it gives up Opel.  Chevy is growing in Eastern Europe, but Western Europe wants more refined vehicles, Opel vehicles.  GM doesn’t want to let the IP go as well.  IP that would go to Eastern Europe, where it is trying to expand Chevy.
       
      I also disagree with your Chevy and Caddy comments.  GMC makes money for GM.  So does Buick.  Why should GM cut them?  Buick is getting very attractive products now.  GMC sells trucks and SUV at prices higher than Chevy with minimal engineering costs.
      Given that Buick makes money and is getting new products to appeal to younger buyers, who do you justify it going away?  GMC is basically doing the same thing, except it never had the blue hair stigma.  Single biggest problem for GM was losing money.  Buick and GMC make money.  Why do you want them to go away?

  • avatar
    texlovera

    Robert-

    Is your point that GM should have sold Opel?  Or is it that GM should keep Opel, but Whitacre took the wrong approach to stopping the deal (he should have stopped it sooner)?

    I say give Whitacre a chance.  I still think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of getting our tax dollars back, but maybe he can turn the thermostat down a few degrees…

  • avatar

    Is your point that GM should have sold Opel?  Or is it that GM should keep Opel, but Whitacre took the wrong approach to stopping the deal (he should have stopped it sooner)?

    Yes. Either way.
    I say give Whitacre a chance.  I still think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell of getting our tax dollars back, but maybe he can turn the thermostat down a few degrees…
    Timeline? Benchmarks? Accountability? No, no and no.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The situation at GM has been bad for a very long time.  What do you expect the timeline for a turnaround to be?  I would give him 2 years.  We are in a terrible economy, which doesn’t help things.
      Benchmarks, to me there is only one thing that matters.  Profitability.  GM needs to make money.  I don’t care about market share.  The only other portion that needs to be, and this shouldn’t take nearly 2 years, is the restructuring.
      Accountability, this is due to the rumblings about GM’s earning report.  GM doesn’t have to release anything.  GM is going to release something, they have even said somethings you can’t compare to prebankruptcy, which is true, and things you cannot, which is also true.  I also know that you don’t like GM having internal goal.  The company I work for has internal goals.  You can buy stock in this company.  Our internal goals are not released.  Only very high level goals are released, and they are done when the earnings are released.  Maybe this is due to your lack of working in a corporate environment.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    What Whitacre did to Fritz on Opel is the same as what the Renault board did to Ghosn on the deal to sell Ssangyongs to Penske to re-badge as Saturns.  Happens to the best of ‘em.

    And it will never be Chevy and Cadillac.  Buick will soldier on as the way to import SAIC vehicles into the US.  And why would you hand 20% of your truck sales to the competition by nuking GMC?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And why would you hand 20% of your truck sales to the competition by nuking GMC?
       
      I don’t buy that for a second.  Are there really thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, of people so shallow that they’d go to Ford, DodgeRam, Toyota or Nissan instead of Chevy?  Really?  Are new pickup truck buyers really that ignorant/shallow/short-sighted?

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    I don’t buy that for a second.  Are there really thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands, of people so shallow that they’d go to Ford, DodgeRam, Toyota or Nissan instead of Chevy?  Really?  Are new pickup truck buyers really that ignorant/shallow/short-sighted?
    I don’t know, but it’s an interesting question.    There must be some reason people are buying GMCs, and it sure as hell isn’t the lack of Chevy dealers.    If we start with the premise that nearly every GMC buyer could easily have bought an equivalent Chevy, then we have to acknowledge that GMC represents something in these customer’s minds.
    It’s not that I’m in favor of keeping GMC, but I don’t think it’s a given that Chevy picks up all those sales.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Dynamic88 is right. Killing off GMC in no way means that the people who would have bought a GMC will now buy a Chevy instead. Oldsmobile buyers didn’t all migrate to other GM brands. Same deal with Pontiac and Saturn.
      When Boeing bought McDonald-Douglas they didn’t end up with the combined market share Boeing and McDonald-Douglas once had separately. Some of the business went to Airbus instead.
       

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Whitacre is no leader.  The only message he’s sending to Fritz or any future replacement is – Run everything by me first.  I make all the decisions.   I know all about this business: cars are just like telephones.

  • avatar
    capdeblu

    Robert:

    I am very sorry to see you go.  Your writing is terrific and funny.  But on the other hand I will now have a lot more time on my hands.  Reading  endless articles on subjects that don’t concern me, reading endless comments on things that dont concern me and making endless comments on things that don’t concern me will now free  up some of my time and maybe I can get some work done around here.

  • avatar
    ChristyGarwood

    Happy Friday, everyone, from the innards of the GM tech center in Warren.  All opinions are my own and do not reflect those of management (unless it will get me a raise ;-)

    What do good detectives do? They make a time line.  Let’s make a time line. Old GM announced the sale of Opel and obtained loans from the German gov’t how long ago? A year or so? Before W gave Old GM funds in Dec. ’08, correct? Rattner and company step in around Feb. 2009 and help the GM lifers create Viability Plan 4.

    Opel is still for sale, the economy is in the tank, jobs are being shed by 500K and 750K per month, car sales are low. GM lifers are in the ‘triage of BK”  and I don’t mean Booger King.

    Obamamoses parts the waters on July 10, 2009, and teh New GM is born with Whitacre at the BoD helm.  He doesn’t have henchwomen and winchmen yet, not till August 3rd. And along sallies C4C through August. Then comes a September to remember, sales dip, but so do costs as the New GM sheds jobs, plants. Oh, and lest we forget, Germany held some sort of elections.

    October brings us Jason in Friday the 13th reruns, and Blair Witch Project reruns, as well as Truck Month and GM sales up-ticks because people really like CTS-Vs, Equinoxes, Terrains, LaCrosses, Malibus, and who would have thunk, Impalas, Cobalts. I’m calling it Profitober Oh-Nine.

    To recap, an Opel sales deal is cut because it has been on the to-do list for awhile and those payments to Germany are coming due, and GM is probably making a profit. I would say if I were CEO – “We are in a position to do an IPO sooner than expected.”

    But then that pesky EU Commission says Germany had a net serve , hit a foul ball or stacked the deck.  Whitacre and the BoD huddle with Fritz and the Lifers.  They look at the numbers from the visitor’s side of the bleachers and there are things that make you go hmm.  What if the numbers show that New GM can keep Opel (and all that IP and sales in Western Europe and be a truly global player) OR they can do the IPO sooner, but not both?  I might be tempted as CEO to reverse my decision and convince the BoD of the reversal. As to who announces it, who cares?  If I were CEO and survived BK, more public criticism is just noise.

    RF, you might be right, Whitacre is not on Fritz’s side like Nationwide. But you might be wrong.  Either way, the discussion is always entertaining and challenges the mind. And to further Mikey’s point, who is paying for Detroit newspapers? Why, all of the individuals that work for Ford, GM and Chrysler, and the suppliers to those three.  So why wouldn’t those papers be tactful and kind in their stories about those companies?
    Four more days, huh? I’d love to see another one of those clever, witty, creative posts like you wrote in April on the PUMA. 

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “Oh and lest we forget, Germany held some kind of election.”
      Some kind of election?  It was a national election, not some pipsqueak town hall vote.
      And your Chairman and CEO reneged on a deal agreed to by the Chancellor of Germany.  That’s why she’s damn annoyed.  Particularly how they went about it.
      Pesky EU Competition people? Ask Jack Welch how he made out trying to get them to agree to GE’s buyout plan of Honeywell. They didn’t. Not even after he had a famous Jack moment or two. He was shown the door.
      The way I see it, the days of bigger than life US businessmen tramping the world in seven league boots is over.  A little more couth is called for now that your outfit is owned by two governments. There’s no free market money in the company AT ALL. It’s mine and yours.
      Judging by the general tone of comments here, I’d say that most people don’t get it that things have changed. Farago stands alone. I shall miss him.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      wmba, you get caught up on the details and miss the big picture.  GM is doing better and never wanted to sell Opel.  Now, they have the option to keep it.  Read the timeline again.
      The part about the EU was actually calling out Germany for stacking the deck, which they very much did.  It wasn’t a shot at the EU.  And the election was talking about the grandstanding that Germany has been doing in this whole matter.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    If Whitacre wants to run GM, he should be CEO. No Chairman should run a company. (In the United States at least. Other countries are different.)

    If Whitacre wants Henderson to run GM, he should let him do it. In that case, he should tell Henderson privately what he wants him to do. Not publicly question what he says.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    why didn’t the Presidential Task Force on Automobiles appoint a Chairman with enough knowledge to hit the ground running?

    There really weren’t a lot of options.  The automotive industry is a unique niche, and you can count the turnaround talent within it on your fingers.   The industry straddles both heavy manufacturing and consumer products, two areas that rarely meet within the business world, so the combined skill sets are rare.   Yet it is also a slow-growing, maturing business that which means that it isn’t the most exciting place for many senior executives to play.  So there is not exactly an abundance of organically grown talent to which to turn.

    Without Renault-Nissan acquiring the company, finding a replacement CEO outside of GM would have required a search outside of the industry, not just outside the company.  That could take a long time.

    It sounds as if the task force got rid of the most obvious problem — Wagoner — and left it to the Board to make the ultimate call.  That’s not what I would have done personally, but then again, that was the point of stacking the board to represent government interests, wasn’t it?

    The alternative to allowing the new board to do its thing would have been to effectively convert the task force into the “real” board, which would have only led to more accusations of socialism and comparisons to that Austrian guy with the funny moustache.   Kind of a no-win situation for the administration to be in, so I can see why Rattner was eager to wash his hands of it.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    The industry straddles both heavy manufacturing and consumer products, two areas that rarely meet within the business world, so the combined skill sets are rare.
    I don’t understand.    Washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ranges ….
    Seems to me heavy manufacturing and consumer products meet frequently.    Of course, American companies that make appliances generally aren’t doing too well either, so maybe the skill sets are rare.

    What about motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, and boats?
    Any talent in any of those industries?

    Does anyone know where I can buy a Japanese made washing machine in the US?

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ranges

    None of that is heavy manufacturing.  Cars involve far more parts, R&D, suppliers and assembly work.

    There are a lot more balls to juggle with building cars and far more lag time between initial design and final release.  That means that there are more opportunities for mistakes, and it takes longer to bounce back from mistakes because the cycle times are so lengthy. In terms of production logistics, cars have more in common with shipbuilding and aircraft than they do with household appliances.

    Most heavy manufacturing is a wholesale business.  In theory, car production is also a wholesale business — the customers are actually the dealers — but in practice, the manufacturer does have to manage the retail channel as well.   It’s part Proctor & Gamble, part Boeing.  There aren’t many industries that play in both arenas so closely.

  • avatar

    all the best to you Robert, thanks for the insight and the laughs. you are truly one unique dude.


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