DaimlerChrysler Corp's highly lauded “extended enterprise” method of dealing with suppliers is not in jeopardy of crumbling away, despite the departure of Thomas T. Stallkamp, DCC's ousted president of North American Operations, says DaimlerChrysler AG Co-Chairman Robert J. Eaton.

However, suppliers and some executives within DC's purchasing ranks are worried that the departure of Mr. Stallkamp, who championed and nurtured the process, may mean that purchasing now will be integrated with Daimler's very different system.

Mr. Eaton denies that would ever happen. “It's an ingrained part of the way we do business. I don't think there's any concern nor should there be any concern about it,” he says in a recent interview with Ward's.

But some point to yet another troubling sign within DCC that suggests that may not be true: Mr. Stallkamp's highly regarded top strategist, 42-year-old Jon Maples, was completely removed from DC's operations as part of the management shakeup. Mr. Stallkamp's replacement, James P. Holden, has installed a new management team. While Mr. Maples still draws a paycheck and benefits from DCC, his new assignment is a community service job: helping the Detroit Public School system improve its purchasing operations.

For his part, Mr. Stallkamp, 53, who leaves Jan. 1, may go outside the traditional bounds of the auto industry for his next job, possibly to an Internet startup company.

Now serving a three-month stint as vice chairman, Mr. Stallkamp won't be specific about his plans until he officially leaves DC at year's end. But he's telling friends and co-workers it's unlikely he will take a job with another major automaker. He isn't ruling out joining a major supplier, but insiders say he sounds as if he's interested in doing something new. He said as much during a Nov. 17 speech to the Original Equipment Suppliers Assn. (see related story p.3) when he remarked he was considering joining an Internet startup “both as a part-time educational experience for me and to provide some advice to them.”