Buickman Rails Against Red Ink Rick

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

someone said…poor Rick, he just inherited too many difficulties…

I replied…

do you have all night? he could have stayed away from Zarrella, he could have left John Rock alone at Olds. he could have shut Saturn down long ago. he could have stayed the hell out of Fiat. could have kept Delphi inhouse, could have held marketing staff resposible. could have ousted Deloitte and rotated auditors to generate accurate and truthful financials, and of course…could have let LaNeve go forward with implementing Return to Greatness.

he could have kept an eye on Eric Feldstein at GMAC and not let mortgages be written that would jeopardize the future of GMAC. he could have listened to Jerry York and changed the Board meetings to an actual working environment. he could have detailed plans and earnings guidances instead of offering nothing more than that smug smirk, stutter, and eye twitch.

he could have held annual meetings in Detroit where the people are, he could have gathered individuals from the industry for the Board instead of British Petroleum, Goldman Sachs, and Astra Zeneca. he could have kept the great car names of our past, he could have put people to work in some capacity instead of idling them in the Jobs Bank. he could have let natural attrition replace long term employees over time instead of throwing money at them with reckless abandon. he could have left the retirees alone to enjoy their well earned security (after all they are our greatest ambassadors). he could have should have but didn’t

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  • 50merc 50merc on Dec 09, 2008

    Thanks, Buickman. An analysis doesn't have to be perfect in every detail to be useful. It's a shame the Board of Bystanders seems oblivious to Wagoner's blunders. One point I wonder about is "he could have put people to work in some capacity instead of idling them in the Jobs Bank." That'd be sensible, but I thought the contract with the UAW prohibits GM from reassigning a worker to different tasks. Of course, even if that's so, Wagoner had years to try to change the contract.

  • Campisi Campisi on Dec 09, 2008
    Olds. a million unit seller driven into the ground Saturn vs Olds? get a life. GM saw potential in Saturn, whereas Oldsmobile was just a collection of rebadges that they had no desire to continue producing. Every single car they sold when killed off in 2004 was available from another division and Oldsmobile as a brand had no mission left, so why would they keep it around? To save some money in the short-term, at the expense of the long-term? moved firms? and why? ’cause he has no clue what to do. If an ad firm isn't performing as well as necessary, they are replaced with another one. That's what GM has done many times even in the last couple years. do blame him for GMAC. ... That doesn't really address my statement. earnings guidance are expected from good management. To the board of directors and to shareholder meetings, sure. They're not going to release anything beyond maybe a vague and sanitised version of such things to the media, though, and expecting them to seems strange to me. Board essential, ours backwards. Wag the Dog. Come again? LeSabre. If they renamed the Lacrosse "LeSabre" tomorrow morning, do you really think people will rush out and buy them in droves? normal attrition conserves cash. The idea behind buying out an employee is to pay him up-front a fraction (big or small, but usually less than 100%) of what he'd make over the course of working at the firm until retirement in exchange for retiring early. In the long run, it's cheaper.

  • Nino Nino on Dec 09, 2008

    I believe that some of the points Buickman is making are valid. You can have a great product, but without great customer service, sales will eventually suffer. Buickman feels that customer service is cheap to provide and that when the great products come along, sales will easily follow. With regards to marketing, it has been pointed out on this blog and others, how GM has squandered name recognition on many of their most popular models. Names like "LeSabre", "Cutlass", "Electra Park Avenue" and others, have been either cheapened or eliminated altogether.This is unlike Honda and Toyota that have maintained the names of their most popular models for decades, exploiting a marketing technique that costs no money and actually saves the companies the expense of tooling new badges every few years. Believe it or not, there are many people that buy cars based on the name they know. Many LeSabre and Electra owners have no idea what a Lucerne is and aren't bothering to find out. All they know is GM stopped making their car.

  • DPerkins DPerkins on Dec 10, 2008

    At 2007 the Detroit Auto Show I overheard 2 fiftyish gentlemen speaking at the Buick display. One said: "Where the heck is my Park Avenue?". His buddy replied: "The LeSabres gone, they're all gone. Buick's gone." I think their unsolicted comments sum up what happened to Buick. Buickman is correct on this score.