DETROIT -- We don’t care who you are. Just hurry up and fix it.
General Motors Co. dealers, who have witnessed more management changes than they can count over the years, said they viewed today’s appointments as a positive for the automaker -- as long as the executives get results in their new roles.
“We don’t really care who they’ve got or where they get them as long as they get the job done,” said Tim Bowers, general sales manager of Tarr Chevrolet in Jefferson City, Tenn.
Before the ouster of CEO Fritz Henderson on Tuesday, not much seemed to have changed at post-bankruptcy GM, dealers said. The shakeup Chairman Ed Whitacre announced today, three days after his takeover as interim CEO, gave dealers hope that the “new GM” may live up to its moniker.
“Quite honestly, what we’ve had here hasn’t worked,” Bowers said. “If GM will really show that they’re trying to make a difference and do things right, I think the public will get behind them for a change.”
Dealers said they would give Susan Docherty, who two months ago was general manager of Buick-GMC, a chance in her expanded role heading service and marketing in addition to sales. Docherty, 47, became sales chief in October when Mark LaNeve resigned to take a job outside the auto industry.
“She seems like a very bright lady, although she seems to have come up awful quick,” said Tom George, a Buick-GMC dealer from Pasadena, Calif. “I haven’t seen a track record that would show where she’s going, but time will tell.”
New GM North America President Mark Reuss, 46, is unfamiliar to some dealers, having spent most of his career in engineering posts. He was president of GM’s Australian Holden unit since early last year before becoming GM’s engineering boss in October.
But Chris Haydocy, who sells the four surviving GM brands at two stores in Ohio, said putting an engineer in charge of North America shows the company cares about product. He praised GM’s speed in announcing the changes after Whitacre assumed Henderson’s duties Tuesday.
“We’re seeing them working with urgency. It’s contagious,” he said. “It’s been a long time since any dealership has tried to copy anything that GM has done.”
The quick changes weren’t a positive signal to Scott Smith, president of Sonic Automotive Inc., whose 129 stores include 27 GM outlets.
“What happens every time a leader is changed?” Smith said in an e-mail. “What if the U.S. changed presidents like GM has changed CEOs? Would that foster instability? Of course. What does instability foster? Answer: failure.”
Donna Harris contributed to this report.