First, let's admit that we're going to shed a tear. It is sad. It is the end of an era. It's the end of the Big 3. Nobody's happy about that.
Second, you're downright nervous. You should be. When two giants merge, everybody involved - even Juergen Schrempp and Bob Eaton - has to be a little nervous. What's going to happen to your job, your dealership or your component company? On either side of the Atlantic, you wonder what lies ahead. It's a big question - but a bigger opportunity.
No one likes to admit it, but the simple fact is that Chrysler simply couldn't survive alone indefinitely. This is a big and tough business. The weak simply die, buried alive with little more than a whimper.
Bob Eaton understood that. He didn't want to have to worry about the employees, the dealers and the shareholders during the next U.S. turndown. And sooner or later, there will be another U.S. turndown.
Right now, Chrysler is at its peak. If ever Chrysler was going to be able to control the process of merger or acquisition, now is the time. Chrysler had at least an equal hand with anybody. And a good partner was a roughly equal partner.
Daimler-Benz had the same idea. The men from Stuttgart knew that the United States was the world's largest and strongest market. Juergen Schrempp wanted to be a more important part of this market.
Chrysler was a North American car company. It would take decades for Chrysler to build a significant international business. Chrysler didn't have the time. Eaton knew that. So did Schrempp.
The time was right for both companies. Daimler-Benz had its house in order. Schrempp was completely in charge. Chrysler was in great shape.
It was a marriage made not in heaven but in necessity. No panic today, but soon. There was a window of opportunity that wouldn't stay open forever.
The future will figure out the details. No one can predict which executives will emerge stronger in five years. But the organization won't be all German, and it won't be all American. It's going to be an international company. Before long, the majority of ownership of this new German corporation will be American. That's where the capital is.
It's exciting, interesting and probably a little scary. But it's real, and it's going to be a powerhouse when everything gets sorted out. That makes it the beginning of a new kind of company.