EDWARD LAPHAM

Supplier CEOs shoot their own scene of Somewhere in Time

Edward Lapham is executive editor of Automotive News.

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. -- It almost seemed like a time warp or an out-of-body experience seeing Meritor CEO Chip McClure and Dick Dauch, CEO of American Axle and Manufacturing, sitting around -- without neckties -- as part of a panel discussion about the road to economic recovery.

The two supplier CEOs normally are buttoned-down guys.

But the open collar look is de rigueur -- and chic -– here at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce's Mackinac Policy Conference. After all, it's supposed to be a relaxed environment as movers and shakers, politicians and business leaders explore ways to re-shape Southeast Michigan, which includes Detroit.

Of course that's why they get together at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan, which also was the setting for the 1980 Christopher Reeve movie "Somewhere in Time."

Dauch and McClure talked about steps their companies took during the depths of the auto recession just two years ago. They even joked about which company's stock price plunged the most.

McClure said at one point Meritor's stock hit 32 cents a share. But Dauch one-upped him, saying American Axle stock hit 29 cents a share.

This afternoon, Meritor (formerly know as ArvinMeritor) was trading at about $15.45 share and Axle was at about $10.60 a share.

Obviously, times have improved.

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