DaimlerChrysler's layoffs and other cost-cutting measures have many suppliers focusing on how to blunt the impact or even take advantage of the automaker's problems.
The carmaker eliminated 26,000 jobs and shut some plants in Mexico. Some U.S. plants will see either production slowdowns or shift eliminations.
At first glance, the cuts may appear devastating to suppliers. But a closer look reveals that there's no set result.
'We're assessing what it will mean,' said Luce Ann Zielinski, media-relations manager for Collins & Aikman Corp. in Troy., Mich. 'We don't know exactly what kind of impact it will have on us. We'll have to wait.'
Collins & Aikman provides interior floor and acoustic systems and is a supplier of fabric, interior trim and convertible top systems.
It provides the roof system for the Chrysler Sebring convertible and interior trim pieces for the PT Cruiser and Chrysler group minivans. In 2000, DaimlerChrysler represented 16 percent of the company's business.
QMC Inc., an Auburn Hills, Mich., software company, provides the automaker with measurement programs aimed at improving efficiency.
Dale Mahrle, QMC president, said his company expects to see its work with DaimlerChrysler increase. QMC derives 25 percent of its revenue from the automaker.
Their loss, our gain
'We're a technology company and a process-improvement company,' he said. 'While there's adversity out there, we see a lot of opportunity. We feel that the technology that we have allows for a more efficient vehicle development process.'
Mahrle said his company is working on a project for a new vehicle, so he thinks his company can parlay that into not only keeping the work his company has with the automaker, but also getting more.
American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. sees a world of possibilities in the production cut. The company primarily serves General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
American Axle sees the DaimlerChrysler problems as a chance for its main customers to gain market share and, by extension, for it to gain business.
'We're very pleased to be a GM supplier,' said Robin Adams, executive vice president.
'We think GM's the right OEM to be with right now. Obviously there have been some problems at DCX. From what I understand, that is an opportunity for Ford and GM to gain market share.'
Some suppliers hurting
Neil De Koker, managing director of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association in Troy, said the experiences of these companies don't mirror the rest of the supplier community.
'It varies,' he said. 'If you have 50 percent of your business dedicated to Chrysler, then it's a big impact. If you have 5 percent, it's less, but there's still an impact.'
Temporary plant closings are really the issue for suppliers, De Koker said. If a supplier supports a Chrysler plant on a just-in-time basis and the plant shuts down to cut production, then it hurts individual plants, although it's not as damaging to a company's bottom line.