The Chrysler group is playing musical chairs at its assembly plants as it prepares to launch new products in 2006.
Five of the company's seven U.S. assembly plants have new plant managers. Chrysler's shuffle puts seasoned veterans in its Sterling Heights, Mich., and St. Louis North assembly plants to handle key launches, says spokesman Ed Saenz.
The unusual number of moves was triggered by several events, including a retirement and the return of a Chrysler executive who had been on loan to Mitsubishi's NedCar plant in the Netherlands, Saenz says. The NedCar plant builds Smart brand vehicles.
The Sterling Heights plant will begin building the redesigned Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring in the fall of 2006. St Louis North is adding the 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab.
The former manager at the Warren, Mich., truck plant will take over in nearby Sterling Heights. The current plant manager at Sterling Heights moves to a quality-control job.
Chrysler also is moving the plant manager at the Newark, Del., assembly plant to St. Louis North. Newark builds the Dodge Durango, Saenz says. An executive returning from NedCar will take over in Newark.
The following changes were effective July 11:Robert Bowers, Sterling Heights assembly plant manager. Bowers was plant manager at the Warren truck assembly plant. Kenneth Brune, Warren truck assembly plant manager. Brune was director of manufacturing quality. Warren truck builds the Dodge Ram, Dodge Dakota and Mitsubishi Raider. Barry Ratlzlaff, St. Louis South assembly plant manager. Ratlzlaff was director of proactive quality systems. St. Louis South builds the Chrysler Town & Country, Chrysler Voyager, Dodge Caravan and Dodge Grand Caravan. Charles Kowalski, St. Louis North assembly plant manager. He had been the plant manager at Newark. St. Louis North builds Dodge Rams.Sungsoo Lee, Newark assembly plant manager. Lee was on loan as executive director at NedCar.Theodora Casasanta is director of proactive quality systems. Casasanta had been the Sterling Heights plant manager. Her new job focuses on preventing vehicle quality problems before launch. Raj Kawlra is director of manufacturing quality. Kawlra was senior manager of the black belt and quality action pipeline. James Nihls, formerly plant manager at St. Louis South, will retire at year end. He has been appointed director for small, premium and family vehicle assembly until that time.