DETROIT — Chrysler LLC is reorganizing its national sales field organization after the departure of about 35 percent of its 750-person field staff in a November buyout and early retirement program.
Steven Landry, executive vice president of sales for North America, said the company had estimated that about 25 percent of white-collar employees would take the buyouts. As a result of the higher departures, Chrysler is hiring in its regional and district offices.
"We'll hire approximately 75 people in the field" but no new people for the Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters sales staff, Landry said. "It's important that we train people as quickly as possible," he said.
By the time the retail sales organization hiring is done, the office staffs would have about 20 percent fewer people than a year ago. But Chrysler won't close any offices, Landry said.
Dealers had reported major levels of attrition among their contacts in regional sales and service offices after Nov. 26. Some regions were hit harder than others.
Chrysler offered buyout and early retirement programs to its entire white-collar staff last fall. Nancy Rae, head of human resources, said the company met its overall goal of cutting office staff by 5,000.
Reorganization of the sales offices was one of the issues the Chrysler national dealer council was addressing at meetings in Detroit last week.
Landry said Chrysler executives also planned to walk dealer council members through the viability plan it presented to the U.S. Department of the Treasury last month to qualify for a $4 billion loan. The company received the Troubled Asset Relief Program loan Jan. 2.
Landry said Chrysler will work with dealers to reduce their costs. Among those targets is the expense of training dealer technicians and sales and service employees.
"We believe we can cut dealer training costs by 30 percent in 2009," Landry said. Chrysler will do that by reducing redundant training sessions.
For example, if only minor engine modifications are made to a vehicle for a new model year, Chrysler won't require dealers to put their technicians through an entire program again.