Ford and GM make Henke's life more interesting

Robert Sherefkin covers suppliers for Automotive News.
John Henke didn't have his ‘Aha' moment until mid-April.

Now, Henke's a sharp and connected man. I've watched him move freely through the secretive world of purchasing, rubbing shoulders with decision-makers and teaching would-be parts buyers at Oakland University. He knows this universe.

His company, Planning Perspectives, puts out the massive annual supplier survey that measures relations between parts makers and the six largest North American automakers.

And for years, the findings were pretty much the same: Suppliers were giddy about working with Japanese automakers and decidedly less so about working with the Detroit 3.

So this year's results took him by surprise. Ford, and to a lesser degree GM, really made strides in healing strained relations with their suppliers.

For years Henke's reports were dismissed by GM and Ford as “highly subjective.”

Henke, an affable fellow, laughed off the criticism.

This year, GM and Ford execs say they're pleased.

All well and good, but Henke's not ready to write off the Japanese.

Now we have a horse race.

Stay tuned.