While Lerick Chissus gathered his SWAT team, General Motors dispatched other operatives to deal with Tube Products Corp.'s financial crisis.
The supplier's lender, Banc One of Columbus, Ohio, wouldn't extend any new loans. Without credit, Tube Products could not survive.
To monitor the supplier's cash flow and develop a turnaround plan, GM called in a trusted consultant, BBK Ltd., from the Detroit suburb of Southfield, Mich.
In October 1995, BBK assigned a dozen employees to work with Tube Products. Then GM and BBK launched an effort to help Tube Products obtain new credit.
Since GM actively supported its supplier, Banc One had little choice but to make a deal. But if Tube Products went under, the bank would have trouble recovering its loan.
After two weeks of talks, Tube Products secured a new loan from Banc One. In November, BBK delivered its turnaround plan to the supplier. It worked.
B.N. Bahadur, a principal of BBK, says Tube Products management was cooperative. But Everett Telljohann, Tube Products' former CFO, had mixed feelings about BBK's role.
'BBK was controlling our cash flow,' Telljohann asserts. 'To get any money, we had to tell them that if GM did not pay these bills, (Tube Products) would not be operating the day after tomorrow. They controlled the purse strings.'
BBK also has played roles with other troubled GM suppliers.
In 1992, for example, GM asked BBK to manage Van Dresser Corp., a maker of instrument panels in Westland, Mich. BBK ran Van Dresser for six months until Textron Automotive Co. bought the company.
And this year, GM called on BBK to help monitor a big GM supplier, Peregrine Inc., during its financial crisis.
GM apparently values the help. Last month it named BBK one of its suppliers of the year.