DETROIT -- The signs were apparent by the end of 2000 that the best of times were over. Even through the heyday of the late ’90s, when automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. were posting record profits, the suppliers had to settle for table scraps. There was no gravy train for them. There were several reasons for this disparity: Many suppliers, at the behest of their automaker customers, had taken on too much debt to acquire other parts makers in an attempt at ...

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