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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Edward Lapham
Automotive News
July 17, 2008 - 3:57 pm ET


The folks in General Motors shareholder relations must be breathing a sigh of relief that the price of GM stock has bounced up a little with the rest of the market.

When the share price was in free fall, a lot of normally passive investors undoubtedly got nervous and wondered what they could do about it. Some probably even thought about getting organized and revolting against management.

Apparently, the stock didn't sink low enough to start a revolution.

For some time, there has been opposition to management from shareholders such as Jim Dollinger, a Buick salesman from Flint, Mich., who has been an antagonistic critic of GM management, especially CEO Rick Wagoner.

Dollinger has attended the past couple of GM annual meetings and loudly voiced his discontent. Between annual meetings, he tries to generate support though his Web site: www.generalwatch.com.

But without a big shareholder like Kirk Kerkorian to act as champion and lead the charge -- and without the support of the institutional investors that control the board of directors -- shareholder movements usually don't go far.

That's perplexing for smaller investors who have their retirement nest eggs built with auto stocks. Especially hard hit this time are GM employees and retirees who have had their benefits cut and seen the value of their GM stock evaporate.

full text at http://www.autonews.com/article/20080717/ANA03/953044993/1125
 

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Rick Wagoner should do the right thing and step down. I think it is shameful to stay when the company is going down hill every year.
 

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OK so Rick goes, Who would you replace him with and why? This is what I haven't heard anything about.
 

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But without a big shareholder like Kirk Kerkorian to act as champion and lead the charge -- and without the support of the institutional investors that control the board of directors -- shareholder movements usually don't go far.
The stock price is certainly an issue, but If things are that dire for the small shareholder, why wouldn't institutional investors be equally concerned, if not more so?
 

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OK so Rick goes, Who would you replace him with and why? This is what I haven't heard anything about.
So now you have to be an expert in industry and business and all possible candidates out there to be justified in critcizing Mr. Wagoner. Wow, Nice Guy Rick really is teflon...!

Before even waiting for rozz' answer, you had your own. "There is no one to replace him with". I've heard of company loyalty before, but that's taking it to a new level.

Loyalty to GM does not mean putting tape over your mouth when there have been serious management missteps and the company is on the financial brink.

Actually, though, rather than Rick, I'll shock everyone and say replace Bob Lutz. Or have him defer to a much younger, tech-crazed modern car geek who loves small 4-cylinder powered cars when it comes to that growing part of GM's portfolio. Because Bob's off-the-cuff remarks show he has no clue, or just doesn't want to see car culture move in a direction that he's unfamiliar with (or that he thinks won't be profitable enough). "The customer doesn't know what they want - until we send them a flyer for a shiny new 8-passenger $40,000 crossover" - that kind of garbage.

Seems to me that Rick has done a decent - if not stellar - job of managing the money where he can with all of GM's many challenges, such as the UAW (I'm sure Buickman could correct me there), given what GM has on lots to sell to customers. He's not the "product czar", and product focus is behind much of GM's woes. Bob should have been "styling czar" because that's where his strength has been.

Bob Lutz' apparent disdain for small cars at news conferences is behind some of their market missteps, I'm sure of it (well, as sure as an armchair quarterback behind his keyboard can be ;) ). Let Lutz continue to manage the big cars and big horsepower that he apparently loves so much, or 1960's roadster-alikes such as the Solstice. Let him live in GM's past where gas was cheap and SUV profits were huge, and give him a protégé who is eager (not foot-dragging with a fake smile) to attack GM's future beyond a limited number of $40,000 Volts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
we cover Sam's position in Tribune. give him the reins and see our capital position multiply. personally, I'm interested in effective, productive, brand enhancing, profitable marketing. put me in coach, I'm ready to play...today...center field.
 

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OK so Rick goes, Who would you replace him with and why? This is what I haven't heard anything about.
There actually is management talent outside of General Motors. While I don't carry the resumes of Fortune 500 managers in my back pocket, Alan Mulally readily demonstrates how you can find people with success in their history who might do a better job at managing an automaker than simply searching GM's shallow talent pool for the next leader.

Bill Ford was smart enough and courageous enough to acknowledge that he was out of his league. He was able to swallow his pride and find a more suitable leader for Ford. That was admirable. Wagoner hasn't really demonstrated he has what it takes, yet he persists in mismanaging GM. Admirable? Not so much.

...Actually, though, rather than Rick, I'll shock everyone and say Replace Bob Lutz...
As an indirect shareholder in GM, I'll pass. That is not a good idea.
 

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If they replace the brass at GM, they should look for someone outside the automotive industry who knows how to run a successful business.
 

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...I'm interested in effective, productive, brand enhancing, profitable marketing...
D'Accord! Cut-and-run, Rick's turnaround plan du jour, hasn't panned out so well. I'd like to see some good old fashioned American competitiveness return to GM. I'd like to see GM grab arms and stand opposed to Japanese and European brands for once.
 

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Actually, though, rather than Rick, I'll shock everyone and say Replace Bob Lutz. Or have him defer to a much younger, tech-crazed modern car geek who loves small 4-cylinder powered cars when it comes to that growing part of GM's portfolio. Because Bob's off-the-cuff remarks show he has no clue, or just doesn't want to see car culture move in a direction that he's unfamiliar with.

You are not shocking me. Lutz just does not get small cars. I think he really believes most people still want SUVs. I say replace him with Carl Peter-Foster the GM Europe head. He is someone who clearly understands product and knows cars. GM can not survive by being a truck company, the days of $2.50 a gallon gas are long gone. Once people buy a more fuel effecient vehicle, it is very hard to replace that with one that gets worse gas mileage. Think about what you drive now, would you replace your current ride with one that gets 5 mpg less if you where in the market now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
think outside the box and look outside the fence.

internally we have good people like White, Hresko, and Wallace. but we need a new direction for the long range view, as opposed to operationally effective managers.

GET SMART...GET SAM!

gotta love this Harley ridin', people luvin' leader.
 

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Ming said:
Actually, though, rather than Rick, I'll shock everyone and say replace Bob Lutz. Or have him defer to a much younger, tech-crazed modern car geek who loves small 4-cylinder powered cars when it comes to that growing part of GM's portfolio. Because Bob's off-the-cuff remarks show he has no clue, or just doesn't want to see car culture move in a direction that he's unfamiliar with (or that he thinks won't be profitable enough). "The customer doesn't know what they want - until we send them a flyer for a shiny new 8-passenger $40,000 crossover" - that kind of garbage.
This makes more sense than the Red Ink Rick crap around here.

Good Post :)
 

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Since we're nominating folks to run GM on this post, how about The General to run The General (Motors)...

Roger Penske.

Probably as much as anybody else you could mention, he understands the business in ways no other person could. He's done it all.

I agree with the premise in the original post, there was not enough of a loss of value of stocks to get the stockholders to revolt. In some regards, I'm glad that didn't happen, OTOH, it would have been interesting to see what developed.

I will say that I was somewhat disappointed to learn that we won't be getting the Beat, and that there are more CUV's on the way, but who knows when those plans were made.

All I do know now, is that $4/gallon gasoline seems to be the pain point for most people. I've often thought that it was $6/gallon, but we all seem to adjust to whatever price the fuel becomes.

I remember when gasoline first hit $3/gallon, we only drove the Malibu when all four of us had to go somewhere (i.e. church, soccer games, etc.). But we acclimated to the price and then before you know it, all three cars were out of the driveway.

I still think this might happen with $4/gallon gasoline, but maybe not. There certainly wasn't the uproar you see now when gasoline first approached $3/gallon. We essentially just rolled over and took it. This time, we've fought back, in as much as possible, by not driving, but eventually we cannot not drive.

What this ramble boils down to is I don't believe that the folks in the Ren Cen believed that $4/gallon gasoline would be any worse than $3/gallon gasoline. So, they've been full steam ahead with whatever products are on the drawing table. Of course, that would include the new Cruze, so apparently there was a thought given to fuel economy concerns. From today's perspective it can't get here fast enough.


 

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Toyota never has these discussions because in japan they don't belong to The Church of the MAGIC CEO.

The groom people from within and promote within to continue the Toyota way of long term, constant improvement.

In the US we have this mythology about 'outsider' individuals boldly taking the reigns and turning things around.

Then these bold individuals discover the absolute minimum amount of time they can make a "u turn" with product is like four years.

Then they find out that automobiles are the most complicated consumer durables... period.

When you're in the auto business you're also in the computer business, the upholstery business, the HVAC business. You've got a dizzying network of supply chains, logistics and supplier issues.

Then you have regulation...then you have overseas competition that's getting subsidized heavily and/or benefiting from the manipulation of currency.

I totally respect Buickman's beef with Rick, but I must also acknowledge that bringing in somebody from Wal Mart or - even worse - the Wall Street vampires - wouldn't be a good idea, because the auto business is really, really, really, really, really complicated and, especially if you think the clock is ticking on GM, there's no time for on-the-job training.
 

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Toyota never has these discussions because in japan they don't belong to The Church of the MAGIC CEO.

The groom people from within and promote within to continue the Toyota way of long term, constant improvement.

In the US we have this mythology about 'outsider' individuals boldly taking the reigns and turning things around.

Then these bold individuals discover the absolute minimum amount of time they can make a "u turn" with product is like four years.

Then they find out that automobiles are the most complicated consumer durables... period.

When you're in the auto business you're also in the computer business, the upholstery business, the HVAC business. You've got a dizzying network of supply chains, logistics and supplier issues.

Then you have regulation...then you have overseas competition that's getting subsidized heavily and/or benefiting from the manipulation of currency.

I totally respect Buickman's beef with Rick, but I must also acknowledge that bringing in somebody from Wal Mart or - even worse - the Wall Street vampires - wouldn't be a good idea, because the auto business is really, really, really, really, really complicated and, especially if you think the clock is ticking on GM, there's no time for on-the-job training.
I won't disagree with your assessment of how Toyota grooms their top people, but I would argue there have been "Magic CEO's" in the auto industry, many times - starting with Billy Durant himself. The most recent example would be Carlos Ghosn, but his legacy is yet to be written. Lee Iacocca is another recent example. I had great hopes for Bob Stempel, but no dice...

But recent GM history has shown that using folks from outside of the automotive industry (like Zarrella and co.) was a particularly bad idea. Maybe some of their ideas were good and possibly not implemented well, but your assumptions about a car being the most complicated durable consumer good are totally on target.

I think that someone from outside of the automotive arena (with the exception of an Alan Mulally who comes from an even more competitive and complex industry) would be a mistake worth not repeating. It would be great to see someone from the engineering ranks (again like a Bob Stempel) become CEO and have the authority and vision to move the company forward.

Or maybe an "outside" insider -- like Roger Penske... :D
 

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If they replace the brass at GM, they should look for someone outside the automotive industry who knows how to run a successful business.
Sure worked at Fiat! Fiat, which GM thought was such a basket case, GM paid $2 billion to disentangle themselves from having to own it. I would say this is evidence that GM's management knows its own limitations . . . .

Now all they need to do is act on that realization, and resign in favor of new leadership.
 

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How about MING replace rick and bob? seems to me that MING offers solutions to just about everything. Talk is cheap, time to put up? I'll in fact be your guide to the Detroit Metro area....;)
 
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