Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

Not ’Til the Fat Lady Sings

With oil dipping below $115 per barrel, its lowest levels since May, Friedemann Strasser, Getrag Transmissions’ chief operating officer, invokes a bit of sarcasm to make his point, suggesting during a morning session on manufacturing for fuel economy that the conference knock off for the day.

“Is it time to go to the golf course, because everything is going to be O.K.?” he asks. “No, I don’t think so. We need to get this thing under control and get away from oil as soon as possible.”

Mail Waiting

Going global requires adjusting to cultural changes and time zones that can vary by 12 hours, but that doesn’t mean all communication should be shifted to e-mail.

“Get on the phone,” advises Tom Saeli, CEO of Noble International. “You can get dozens or hundreds of e-mails, and it takes time to sort them all out. The phone is much more efficient.”

Clueless in Washington

Reflecting the industry’s exasperation with Washington’s ill-informed lawmakers when it comes to increasing a vehicle’s fuel economy and rolling out more hybrid powertrains, Johnson Controls’ MaryAnn Wright pulls no punches.

“They’re ignorant,” says Wright, who heads up the supplier’s JC-Saft hybrid-battery business. “They do not understand the technology challenges, what it takes and what makes us competitive. It’s so stupid.

“We need to be like Japan – and put all the cards on the table: ‘What does it take to be competitive? Now go out and do it.’”

Missed Play?

During a panel discussion following the “Profitable Personalization” MBS session Tuesday, Myles Kovacs, co-founder and president of DUB magazine, reveals General Motors turned its nose up at an Escalade Hybrid the publication had customized for Eli Manning, quarterback of this year’s Super-Bowl champs, the New York Giants.

“The folks at Cadillac said their car is cooler than ours,” Kovacs says, when a fellow panelist suggests it was a missed opportunity to promote car customization, especially a hybrid-electric vehicle, to a national audience.


Ward’s is willing to admit a mistake, even it’s a technical foul. So we take it on the chin when Brett Smith of CAR says we were incorrect during last year’s MBS coverage, reporting he said Ford exec Mark Fields was one of two infamous mullet wearers.

“I did not say, ‘Mark Fields,’” Smith protests, while admitting he indeed meant Mark Fields; he just didn’t want to say “Mark Fields.”

But Smith readily is naming names this year, inducting Specialty Equipment Market Assn.’s John Waraniak into the Mullet Hall of Fame here.

We, therefore, cautiously name names as we report Smith’s taking a page from Toyota manufacturing chief Steve St. Angelo’s playbook by popping up on the big screen a Photoshop image of his boss, Dave Cole, sporting a Billy Ray Cyrus-style mullet. Anyone for Pictionary?

– compiled by Barbara McClellan