Tom Stallkamp had the Herculean task of integrating Chrysler Corp. and Daimler-Benz AG. But it was his groundbreaking, pre-merger work with suppliers that brought him wide recognition in the industry.
Stallkamp, 53, was an integral part of the creative team of executives that help resuscitate Chrysler early in the 1990s.
As the chief purchasing executive, Stallkamp developed strong partnerships between Chrysler and its suppliers. He was widely praised for cooperating with suppliers instead of confronting them.
Stallkamp created the Supplier Cost Reduction Effort, or SCORE, to root out waste. It gave Chrysler a significant cost advantage over its Big 3 rivals. Under SCORE, suppliers and the automaker find ways to reduce costs. Suppliers can pocket some of the savings they generate.
During 1997, his last year in a purchasing role at Chrysler, supplier cost-cutting proposals saved the company $1.2 billion. Another $2.1 billion was saved the following year.
FROM FORD TO CHRYSLER
SCORE continued after the 1998 merger with Daimler-Benz, and the goal is $2.2 billion in savings this year.
Stallkamp's work with suppliers, along with the creation of platform teams and innovative automotive designs, helped bring Chrysler back from near bankruptcy.
Stallkamp's first job as a purchaser was buying nuclear fuel for the Navy, and he later was a supply and logistics officer for the U.S. Coast Guard. He held purchasing posts at Ford Motor Co. from 1972 to 1980, when he joined Chrysler as a general purchasing agent.
Stallkamp acknowledges that purchasing has been a big part of his career at Chrysler, but he points out that he was chairman of Acustar, Chrysler's parts manufacturing arm, and was general manager of large-car operations during development of the 1998 Dodge Intrepid and Chrysler Concorde sedans.
PRESIDENT IN 1998
Stallkamp reached the pinnacle of purchasing at Chrysler in 1996 when he was named executive vice president of procurement and supply. He wore a second hat as general manager of minivan operations, watching over the company's crown jewels.
Two years later, Chrysler Chairman Robert Eaton selected Stallkamp as president of the company.
Stallkamp began his new duties as Chrysler president on Jan. 1, 1998, just days before Eaton and Daimler-Benz Chairman Juergen Schrempp began talking secretly about merging the two automakers.
Stallkamp's tenure as president of an independent Chrysler was short-lived.
Chrysler and Daimler-Benz officially merged Nov. 17, 1998. Stallkamp was appointed to the DaimlerChrysler management board and was named president of DaimlerChrysler Corp., the North American arm of the new company. He also was placed in charge of integration efforts, a task that consumed the bulk of his time.