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Oracle of Delphi

Wagoner could lose top GM job

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Rick Wagoner's 31-year career may fall victim to the mistakes of the industry and of his own making, even if General Motors Corp. survives.

The GM chief executive officer prompted scrutiny of his record by asking for a government bailout to keep the Detroit automaker in business. Now, his departure may be a necessary condition of any federal rescue, business leaders and lawmakers say.

"Management needs to be replaced," said Robert Crandall, former chairman and CEO of American Airlines parent AMR Corp. "The fact is that the management as a whole has had lots of opportunities to fix this. They haven't."

Mr. Wagoner has run the world's largest automaker for the past eight years, presiding over $73 billion in losses beginning in 2005. He already endured a fight with dissident shareholders and several failed turnarounds and may argue that he knows the company better than most who could take his job.

The 55-year-old executive joined GM in 1977, as U.S. automakers were fending off Japanese competitors who recognized the need a decade earlier to build fuel-efficient vehicles. Although U.S. auto sales broke records during Mr. Wagoner's years as CEO, the three major producers - Ford Motor Co., Chrysler LLC and GM - battled high labor costs from pension and retiree health care obligations.

"There's the feeling that next to financial services, automotive execs are the dumbest people in the world," said Thomas Stallkamp, a former Chrysler president who joined the car company in 1980, when it received emergency government loans. "There are probably some symbolic moves that somebody's going to ask for."

The federal government insisted on replacing the CEOs of American International Group Inc., Fannie Mae and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) when they received aid. Lawmakers including Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, said some executives may have to go before GM and the other U.S. automakers receive $25 billion in new government loans.

"It's pretty clear that management has made some pretty bad decisions over the last 20 years," Mr. Brown said, adding that changing management is something that Congress must "think seriously about."

Mr. Wagoner won't offer to resign, he told Automotive News.

Mr. Wagoner has presided over $73 billion in GM losses since 2005, lost 6 percent in market share and suffered a stock decline of 95 percent. (Allison Shelley/The Washington Times)

"It's not clear to me what purpose would be served," he said. "Our job is to make sure we have the best management team to run GM."

Link: http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/2...ose-top-gm-job/

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GM was profitable when he took over. Now they are $78B in the hole with rumors of bankruptcy. If any small business had an employee like this he would be fired and listed non rehireable. I understand why he doesn't want to leave but I don't think shareholders or uncle Sam will allow it and they're right.

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I think he could have done a lot better, and I think GM could use someone like Mulally to really shake up the culture.

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I'd die if Lutz replaced Wagoner...but I doubt that's in the cards. Who's Lutz 2.0?

I know! Let's bring someone from Holden to head GMNA! That'll give PCS and CPF hernias!

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its like an NBA coach. sometimes a change is neccessitated by the situation, just to say they did something.

my hunch is that Wagoner is qualified to be in the post he is in, but that GM's organizational structure and decision making path is terrible....as well as lots of lack of vision in many high level posts beneath him.

either way, i think he'll need to go.

Hate to say it, but Lutz is probably in need to be gone too.

Edited by regfootball
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I'd die if Lutz replaced Wagoner...but I doubt that's in the cards. Who's Lutz 2.0?

I know! Let's bring someone from Holden to head GMNA! That'll give PCS and CPF hernias!

Reuss...

I think Wagoner could have done better, but I also think that a lot of this mess was inherited and caused by outside forces and that he is the 'sacrifice' of that.

Might I remind everyone that GM was on track to be very successful in a couple of years before the credit market crashed. I think we need new leadership in areas other than the auto sector.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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Well, we're always big on symbolism in our society, so Wagoner probably will have to fall on his own sword just to make the critics happy.

For a better take on his career, critics should look at the shining jewel GM's operations are in Brazil, which he had a big hand in turning around during his tenure there: GM-Brazil is profitable, is enjoying strong growth and is perennially neck and neck with VW for #2 in sales.

I suppose the current President of South American operations can take all the credit for that.

We will need no better illustration of this point than what will happen to Obama over the next couple years: he will blame Bush for everything (and he'd be correct), but anything he would like to do (his own legacy) will have to wait while he puts out a dozen fires.

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and I think GM could use someone like Mulally to really shake up the culture.

I'd like to see that as well... GM is the 'big elephant' that seems unable to change direction... I think there's a lot of untapped talent there and if someone shook up the structure a little it might be good... who knows? Maybe the bailout money can be the chance for something like that to happen!

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I'd die if Lutz replaced Wagoner...but I doubt that's in the cards. Who's Lutz 2.0?

I know! Let's bring someone from Holden to head GMNA! That'll give PCS and CPF hernias!

Pssst! It's going to be CPF taking over! :AH-HA_wink:

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Reuss...

I think Wagoner could have done better, but I also think that a lot of this mess was inherited and caused by outside forces and that he is the 'sacrifice' of that.

Might I remind everyone that GM was on track to be very successful in a couple of years before the credit market crashed. I think we need new leadership in areas other than the auto sector.

Agreed on all points, but most especially on Ruess.

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It is sad I know someone who has a relationship with Rick. She is someone who has a few ties to GM that run very deep. She always said was a kind and bright guy he is, the kind you could have over for BBQ. I have no reason to doubt her good judgement. Wagoner did for better or worse did get a GM handed to him that was on the edge but if no big problems (the current one) came up prolly would have dug out okay and the last Union talks went very well. Rick deserves lots of credit, I know around here he might not have many fans, but I am one of them. When people compare GM to small biz that is sad and not the same a large biz can take larger hits than a little one and GM did. Sad sure, but not Ricks fault. I don't want to get political like him or not, not every bad thing that happend or even most bad things that happen, were because of G.W.B over the last eight years think about it. Just like from 92-00 every bad thing was Clinton's fault, totally not true. I feel bad for Rick he is a good guy I would give him a few more years, I think he can do alot with a little more money and freedom. He has proven himself effective in working with people in my view. For the reccord IF he left, bring in Lutz, because just like Wagoner I really do like Lutz. He is a real car guy but also realizes you have to deal with CAFE and the rising price of oil, but keep doing fun and desirable cars.

Edited by gm4life
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In any other industry, if the CEO oversaw a 95% drop in stock price he'd be gone. I don't know why the shareholders and board haven't thrown him out yet. Time for new leadership and they need to go outside the company to find a CEO, Lutz or Henderson will just bring more of the same.

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In any other industry, if the CEO oversaw a 95% drop in stock price he'd be gone. I don't know why the shareholders and board haven't thrown him out yet. Time for new leadership and they need to go outside the company to find a CEO, Lutz or Henderson will just bring more of the same.

Bingo. It doesn't matter what size the company is. It's called accountability and the buck stops at the CEOs office. If there are burecratic problems within GM or improper spending, or products that take too long to get to market, or too many compromises from concept to production, it's because the CEO allows it, or doesn't care enough to step in when someone is making a mistake.

If you look at any truly successfull company, the CEO takes responsibility for the company's success. He's their leader. He's the man who should have the vision for the company and be relentless about ensuring the company meets it. And if anyone gets in the way, they're dealt with. Either discipline or shown the door. When Apple designed the original iMac their manufacturing and engineering departments said, we can't do this product sorry. Steve Job s said, "I didn't ask you if we could do it and I didn't ask for reasons why we can't do it. I told you we doing it. Make it happen." A large portion of their engineering and manufacturing staff dug in their heels and were fired.

That's the kind of leadership GM needs. Someone who knows the right thing to do and does it. They don't take any BS from anyone. They tell them to get it done or get out. And if you have that kind of accountability, people will do their jobs and the company will get things done on time and for the right amount of money. I guarantee that Toyota and Honda have this kind of accountability. In fact, I'll bet the employee would resign before he had to get fired. Not at GM though. Everybody's entitled to their jobs no matter what. I can't figure that part out.

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Hate to say it, but Lutz is probably in need to be gone too.

As I understand it, if not for Lutz, GM wouldn't have even the few good vehicles that they have now.

I sure hope Lutz gets to stay.

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IIRC, Lutz has already said he's retiring after the Volt is finished up.

That could be never! :AH-HA_wink:

Well then they may as go bankrupt now. You knew the Volt was going to be a dud as soon as they decided to make "reality" standard. And without Lutz I'm not sure there is any hope for future GM product.

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