DETROIT - General Motors will enter the new century wrestl-ing with familiar challenges.
Its market share is hovering below 30 percent. Competitors constantly are fielding fresh product. And GM still is adjusting to a vast reorganization of its sales and marketing operation.
Chairman Jack Smith will be an opening-night keynote speaker at the kickoff dinner for the 2000 Automotive News World Congress on Jan. 17 in Detroit. The theme of the congress is 'Embracing the Promise of the New Millennium.'
Richard E. Dauch, the other keynote speaker, also started his career at GM. Dauch moved from GM to Volkswagen of America Inc. and to Chrysler Corp. Dauch is now CEO of American Axle and Manufacturing Inc., a key GM supplier.
Dauch has a reputation as a fiery and controversial leader. A former staffer at American Axle remembers him as someone 'who doesn't share the ball well.' In 1994, Dauch teamed with another former GM executive, James McLernon, and a New York investment group to buy five of GM's axle and gear plants. The five factories became American Axle. From the start, American Axle did most of its business with GM.
And now, with a plan to vertically integrate American Axle's supply and manufacturing operations, Dauch hopes to raise the company's revenues to $10 billion by 2004, from around $2.5 billion today.
While he was with GM in the 1960s and 1970s, Dauch was the youngest plant manager in Chevrolet's history. He left GM for VWoA.
Lee Iacocca recruited Dauch to Chrysler, where he was given the daunting task of improving Chrysler's manufacturing. Under Dauch, Chrysler moved to a just-in-time delivery system for parts.
Smith's journey to the top was more conventional, except for his step to CEO. He joined GM's financial staff in New York in 1966. While there, Smith handled several finance assignments before moving to Detroit. He was named GM's comptroller in 1980.
Smith began his international postings in Canada in 1984 as president and general manager of GM of Canada Ltd. He moved to GM Europe in 1986 and was credited with generating high profits in Europe for GM.
After former chairman Robert Stempel was ousted in a boardroom coup in 1992, Smith was named president and CEO.
Smith has improved GM's balance sheet and profits vastly. However, the company still is struggling to improve its market share.
The Automotive News World Congress will be held Jan. 17-20, 2000, at the Marriott Renaissance Center in Detroit. The program will include panel discussions on finance, marketing, e-commerce and manufacturing.