BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Tom Stallkamp delivered a thinly veiled message last week to the managers of General Motors and Ford Motor Co.:
Automakers that abuse suppliers probably treat employees and customers the same way. And the ill will is costing sales.
Stallkamp, the former Chrysler Corp. president who has written a book on supplier relations, offered a blunt critique of the Big 3 during his dinner speech Tuesday, June 14, at the Automotive News Manufacturing Conference here.
"In America, we manage by simplicity," Stallkamp said. "That is to say, 'One size fits all.' So if companies treat their suppliers one way, they also treat their dealers the same way, and very often they treat their employees the same way.
"So if you treat one group in a really adversarial fashion, odds are you are treating everyone in a really adversarial fashion - including customers."
While Ford and GM appear to be at odds with their suppliers, the Chrysler group has begun to repair relations, Stallkamp noted.
During his 20-year career at Chrysler, Stallkamp built a reputation for cultivating good relations with suppliers. Chrysler's cost-cutting program was called SCORE, or Supplier Cost Reduction Effort.
After he left the company, Stallkamp spelled out his philosophy in a book called SCORE! A Better Way to Do Busine$$: Moving from Conflict to Collaboration.
Stallkamp works for Ripplewood Holdings LLC, a private equity firm in New York.
Stallkamp suggested that the friction between automakers and suppliers could undermine the industry.
He said: "We have to change the way we operate if we are going to save this industry."
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