Power of the Press

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Not us journalist types. Rather, I'm talking about Chrysler Vice-Chairman Jim Press, whom dealers tell me should run for president someday.

This man quickly is becoming a leader of legendary proportions to Chrysler dealers. Press tells a room of hundreds of them during the franchhise meeting at NADA the auto maker is cutting the profit magin by .5%, freezing the labor warranty rate this year, stopping payment for gas in the cars shipped to dealers, and by the way, we need you to order more vehicles even though you're average days supply exceeds 100 days.

He gets a standing ovation. "Inspirational" and "Knute Rockne-like," is how dealers described Press' efforts in the meeting. "He took off his jacket and talked straight with us," says one dealer executive.

The same executive was in GM's franchise meeting. It was stiff, with power point presentations and corporate speak. "We know nothing more than we knew before the meeting," he says. No wonder GM dealers left their meeting tight-lipped, shaking their heads.

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