Monday, January 14, 2008

Suppliers: Chrysler hasn't talked with us

Bradford Wernle
Automotive News

DETROIT — Component suppliers say they have had little or no communication with Chrysler LLC since Cerberus Capital Management bought the automaker last summer, an e-mail supplier survey reveals.

Only 22 percent of the 90 suppliers surveyed said Chrysler executives had communicated with them since Cerberus took over in May, reports, a research firm in Stamford, England.

Of the vendors surveyed, most were direct suppliers to Chrysler. Forty percent had annual sales exceeding $500 million.

A number of suppliers said they believe Cerberus ownership will benefit Chrysler. But Chrysler remains too focused on short-term cost savings at the expense of other important issues, including quality, technology and long-term collaboration.

"Their sense of desperation is causing them to do foolish things," said one supplier. "They have few 'heroes' that will do the right thing for the product when cost-versus-product decisions need to be made."

The findings present a challenge for John Campi, Chrysler's new supplier chief. Campi, former Home Depot purchasing chief, moved to Chrysler Jan. 3.

A majority of the suppliers surveyed said changes in Chrysler's purchasing strategy could make a big contribution to improving the automaker's welfare.

Chrysler declined to comment.

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