There may not be a business that relies on product more than the automobile industry does.
Everyone always talks about the latest and greatest vehicle. And more than once, the success or failure of a company has been attributed to a flurry of new products or the lack of them.
But at just about any company, whether it's a dealership or a supplier or an automobile manufacturer, results always come down to people.
Whether you're looking for a superstar or just folks who can move the iron, if you don't have the right person in the right position you might as well hang it up.
In so many instances, having the right person has led to success. Put the right person in the right slot, and watch the company grow and prosper.
Put the wrong person in the wrong slot, and watch the company founder. That happens more often than you might imagine.
Hiring Mike Jackson away from Mercedes-Benz North America to be the CEO at AutoNation was what it took to stop the bleeding at AutoNation. He combined wholesale and retail experience, and the company started to click.
Carlos Ghosn has done a magnificent job for both Renault and Nissan. There were many doubters when he started at Nissan, but if you had paid attention to what he accomplished at Michelin and Renault, you might have had some insight into what was going to happen at Nissan. And it didn't take long to see his impact on the company.
Ken Way took a sleepy old automotive supplier, did a leveraged buyout and turned Lear Corp. into one of the successful giants of the supplier business. He built Lear into a powerhouse.
There are many other great examples of the difference that one person can make in realizing the potential of a company or a car.
Sure, cars are important, but rarely does a single vehicle change a supplier's fate. Not many dealerships go from bad to good with a single model. Maybe a car company can change its future with a single model, but it usually takes more than one these days when everyone is introducing great vehicles.
It's still very much a people business, and it always will be.