DETROIT -- Former Reagan administration budget czar David Stockman promised that his supplier-side economics would revitalize the automotive supplier sector.
His Heartland Industrial Partners raised billions of dollars to finance an acquisition strategy of "get big fast" to prepare for the next recession. He timed his deals, buying solid but out-of-favor automotive parts makers at deep discount.
Over three years, Stockman assembled a large "interiors platform" under the Collins & Aikman Corp. banner and a "metals platform" known as Metaldyne Inc. Collins & Aikman ranks No. 12, and Metaldyne ranks No. 36 on the Automotive News list of top 150 original equipment suppliers to North America in 2002.
But it didn't take an industry recession to test Stockman's strategy.
Collins & Aikman, of Troy, Mich., has been unable to deliver promised cost savings from its bevy of acquisitions. Cash flow has faltered, putting a squeeze on the company because of its immense debt.