The Chrysler group is relying on a General Motors manufacturing veteran to launch the redesigned 2005 Dodge Dakota.
Bob Bowers built a 37-year career at GM. After retiring from GM in 2000, he is back in the work force as plant manager of Chrysler's Warren, Mich., truck plant.
Bowers, 61, has ties to the top at the Chrysler group. "I know Tom LaSorda," says Bowers, referring to the Chrysler group COO. "I worked directly for Tom from 1994 to 1996, when I was director of facilities engineering at the Buick City site" in Flint, Mich.
At the time, LaSorda was the manufacturing manager of the Cadillac car group. The paths of the two men also crossed during Bower's tenure from 1989 to 1994 as assistant plant manager of GM's Orion, Mich., plant. LaSorda joined Chrysler in 2000 after 23 years in various GM manufacturing posts.
Says Bowers: "I spent 37 years with GM and had an opportunity to get into eight different plants. Chrysler intrigued me because it appeared to be making a real turnaround. I retired from GM on Sept. 1, 2000, and a couple of days later, I started working for DaimlerChrysler."
For Bowers, inaugurating a third shift at Warren Truck was a lure. "I always wanted to be involved in a three-shift operation," he says. "Just to say I had done it. I have worked since I was 8 years old, and I enjoy manufacturing.
"This is the only company butting three shifts (in continuous 24-hour production). I didn't know I would ever get a chance to do this."