His “landlord” and an old colleague joined the growing list of Bob Lutz cheerleaders in separate WAW interviews.
Tom Stallkamp, who worked closely with Mr. Lutz atCorp. during its hallcyon days in the ‘90s as purchasing chief and later president, says “it’s going to be a zoo” at Corp. as Mr. Lutz takes charge as of product development on Sept.1. He didn’t explain what he means by “zoo,” but his smile implied that Mr. Lutz likely will shake up the place.
Now vice chairman and CEO of MSX International, Mr. Stallkamp says he spent an hour on phone with Mr. Lutz shortly after GM revealed it had recruited the 69-year-oldretiree last week.
“He went down the whole list of GM cars and trucks, and he had opinions on all of them,” says Mr. Stallkamp. “With only a three-year deal, I don’t think he’ll have as much impact on GM’s cars as on its culture,” he says.
Although not surprised by GM President and CEO Rick Wagoner’s move to bring Mr. Lutz on board, Mr. Stallkamp says “It’s remarkable that GM gave him all of that power.”
Ken Baker, chairman of ERIM, co-sponsor of the Management Briefing Seminars, counts Mr. Lutz as a rent-paying tenant at ERIM’s headquarters in Ann Arbor. “I’m his landlord,” he laughs.
What’ll Mr. Lutz bring to GM? “Bob has a great feeling for heritage. He understands the legacy of cars developed over the last 100 years,” says Mr. Baker. “He has the vision to help GM right now; they can use his intuition when it comes to new vehicles. If you’re going to make good stuff you need a good chef, and he’s it.”
Like Mr. Stallkamp, Mr. Baker says “you won’t see his real value until after his three-year window is done. But he’ll bring back product-central thinking to GM. He has flare, and putting flare into a product is a lot more fun than putting in dullness.”o
--David C. Smith