Eric Mayne's Blog

Things are cookin' under the Pentastar

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Too many chefs spoil the broth.

It's an old adage. And there's a grain of truth in it.

But these days, Chrysler is all about going against the grain. Because the struggling auto maker has long adhered to the old ways, and look how that turned out.

Consider the "enabler meetings" that take place every morning at the auto maker's headquarters in Auburn Hills. Anyone who has encountered a roadblock associated with product development or launch timing, etc., can knock on the door and get an immediate resolution from one or more of the senior vice presidents in attendance: Doug Betts (quality), Paolo Ferrero (powertrain), Scott Garberding (manufacturing/World Class Manufacturing), Dan Knott (purchasing) and Scott Kunselman (engineering).

Says Betts: “They just walk right in and say, ‘I’m trying to do this and the guys in the other department say, ‘You can’t do it without Form Wubba Wubba Wubba. But (if) I don’t do it in the next three days, it’s going to cost us an extra million dollars.' And then we just say, ‘Go ahead and do it.’

“It’s about teamwork. In my experience it’s kind of rare,” he adds.

It certainly wasn't always the case at Chrysler. Before emerging from bankruptcy (with an able assist from Fiat), there was too much inward focus, Betts tells me during a recent interview.

"Problems occur when individuals are more worried about themselves and their own careers than they are really thinking about what’s best for the company," he says. "And we just don’t’ have that right now. It could just be a temporary, fleeting thing because the company almost died and we’re all really focused on the company.”

Like the guy who turns his life around after a near-death experience?

“Only that guy always quits his job and just relaxes," Betts says. "I’m working all the time.”

But it's not an all-work-and-no-play situation. Betts and Kunselman discovered they are both devotees of The Big Green Egg.

The Bentley of barbecues, it's a ceramic smoker/grill endorsed by survivalists because it can stay lit through a nuclear winter. Or something like that.

Then Garberding got one. (Knott reportedly acquired a competitive model, but is rethinking the purchase. Not unusual for a purchasing guy, I suppose.)

It's just a matter of time before Fiat lifer Ferrero is serving up osso bucco from his Green Egg.

Hopefully, Chrysler doesn't lay an egg on the showroom floor.

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