WardsAuto writers pass along the buzz at this week’s Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI.
It’s OK if you’re the dumbest guy in the room. That’s because you potentially can learn the most, Ben Patel, avice president, says at a CAR Management Briefing Seminars session on attracting young talent to the auto industry.
His comment supposedly brings comfort to moderator John McElroy, who is host of the TV show “Autoline,” a WardsAuto columnist and actually a smart guy.
But after Patel wraps up his presentation, McElroy says: “When he said it’s good to be the dumbest guy in the room, I breathed a sigh of relief.”
Breaker Breaker 1-9, Truckers Needed, Stat!
At Tuesday afternoon’s supply-chain and logistics panel, lack of truckers was a hot topic.
In a nutshell, suppliers and automakers can’t deliver parts and vehicles if there aren’t enough people to drive the trucks that transport them, which more and more is becoming a problem.’s Joe Carlier, senior vice president-logistics, says the U.S. Department of Transportation requires drivers be 21 to obtain a Class-A license.
That fact, plus two years of required training to be a long-haul truck driver, prevents a lot of kids who don’t go to college from entering the field. “They found alternatives,” he says of young adults who would have been “five years removed” from high school by the time they hit the open road.
The Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Peter Anastor blames a lack of truck-driving schools and the expense of those in existence. He proposes a plan to bring young adults into the field with dock or warehouse work, with the promise to train them for trucking positions.
“When there’s 60,000 jobs available on our MITalent website, we ought to be able to find some people who want to be truck drivers,” Anastor says.
There aren't 60,000 trucking jobs available, however. We counted 690 jobs listed searching the keyword "trucking" on mitalent.org, the state's online job board.
Bret Michaels Shakes up MBS
The 1980s rocker and reality TV star Bret Michaels cameoed at the Management Briefing Seminars Wednesday morning whenVice President Fred Diaz showed off a humorous new ad for Nissan’s NV commercial van that features the former Poison frontman singing a hair-band love ballad to the van as it goes through production and testing.
The commercial employs virtually every cliché from an ’80s rock video and had the audience chuckling. But the question of the day became: Will it actually sell vans? Is Michaels’ Millennial fan base at a stage in life they are interested in light commercial vans? Is he the next Ron Burgundy, superstar truck pitchman?
You Gotta Have Art
Automotive people are not just gearheads.
One of the biggest rounds of applause Wednesday morning at the Management Briefing Seminars was for Simon Nagata’s announcement thatMotor North America has pledged $1 million to help keep prized works at the Detroit Institute of Arts away from the auction block.
There is a movement to sell some of the art to pay off debt as part of the city’s bankruptcy.
“Detroit and the surrounding areas are vitally important to the automotive community,” says Nagata, president ofMotor Engineering and Mfg. “They deserve our support.”
Then again, Nagata is a gearhead, too. In his presentation, he displays a photo of a T-shirt he bought at Meijer showing aMustang and carrying the slogan, “Blood, Sweat and Gears.”