DETROIT -- A General Motors event here to honor the company's best suppliers broke out into an impromptu sales pitch.
New GM purchasing chief Steve Kiefer got on stage during the March 5 ceremony to hand out hardware to 78 suppliers who excelled in quality and innovation in 2014. In the process, he slipped in a few commercial messages, explaining to supplier execs why they should be coming to GM with their best stuff.
"The smart money should be on General Motors," said Kiefer, who took over as vice president of global purchasing and supply chain in November. He dangled the carrot that GM will be "sourcing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of new business contracts" over the next 18 to 24 months.
Kiefer, 51, also asked attendees to send to him, personally, one innovative idea in the next 30 days.
"We want to be your OEM of choice," Kiefer said.
That the event morphed into a courtship underscores how heavily GM and other automakers are leaning on the supply base for innovation. The emergence of autonomous driving, the connected car and mobility services helps explain why GM CEO Mary Barra believes the industry "will experience more dramatic change in the next decade than it has in the past 50 years," as she said during an October speech.