DETROIT - With the Jan. 31 retirement of manufacturing guru Dennis Pawley, it is unclear who will oversee DaimlerChrysler Corp. assembly plant operations.
The uncertainty leaves open the possibility that a single executive will oversee manufacturing for all of DaimlerChrysler AG, perhaps from Stuttgart.
While Pawley is in charge of manufacturing here, he has no direct counterpart in Stuttgart at the management board level. Helmut Petri heads Mercedes-Benz car manufacturing in Stuttgart.
Pawley, 57, said the new company will do fine with a German or an American replacement, or with manufacturing oversight by several managers.
Pawley, who announced his retirement Friday, Dec. 4, has been Chrysler's executive vice president of manufacturing since 1991. He has held various manufacturing posts at Mazda Motor Corp. and General Motors since 1965.
Pawley has purchased 50 percent of Performance Learning Inc., a corporate-training firm in Las Vegas. He also will do some consulting for Harbour and Associates Inc. in Troy, Mich.
His retirement could mean one fewer American executive on the DaimlerChrysler AG board of management. The board already has more executives from Stuttgart than from Auburn Hills, Mich.
DaimlerChrysler Corp., the North American unit of DaimlerChrysler AG, has eight executives on the 18-member board.
Pawley decided to retire in late 1997 and told then-Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton that he wanted to leave this past spring. Eaton later persuaded him to stay on during merger preparations and new product launches. Executives have known for months of his desire to retire, but the company said Friday it has almost two months to fill the post.
Pawley has implemented the Chrysler Operating System in assembly and component plants so that workers quickly identify and fix problems on the factory floor, thereby improving vehicle quality.