"That set up a new precedent that now, I believe, will change the way customers and the supply base will work together in the future," he told Crain's Detroit Business, a sister publication of Automotive News, in an interview this month. Collins & Aikman went into Chapter 11 in May with no plan or cash. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. initially committed up to $300 million in financing. But the supplier received only the first $150 million installment. Its receivables weren't enough to get the rest.
The Troy, Mich., company makes parts for 90 percent of the light-vehicle models produced in North America. A shutdown at Collins & Aikman would have crippled the entire industry. So its automaker customers stepped in, first providing $165 million in loans and price increases.
Last month the supplier received new contracts with $141 million in price increases this year plus another $58 million in surcharges. The automakers also agreed to let Collins & Aikman bid on new contracts.
Macher says his company had plenty of its own problems and inefficiencies. But it also wasn't able to pass on massive increases in raw-material prices. "Now customers are saying, 'You know, this cost us a lot,' " Macher says.
John Hoffecker, a senior management consultant at corporate turnaround firm AlixPartners LLC, in Southfield, Mich., says automakers are "more sophisticated" in how they approach suppliers.