Detroit’s Big Three Auto Makers – Ah, Quality and Teamwork really does Work!

CBS Sunday Morning recently aired a feature on this year’s Detroit Auto Show, highlighting the new push for quality and teamwork.  It was so exciting to watch how executives and union workers alike reported that “lessons had been learned.”  The result?  The new head of Chrysler,  Sergio Mechionne, the CEO of Fiat, told CBS, “Product is key. Everything else is nonsense.”  Hey, better late than never to hear that the Big Three is finally listening to what customers want.

UAW’s President Bob King added, “I hope people look at the auto industry as a model of what should be happening across America. Here’s government and management, business, labor and community all working together and look at the results; everybody is further ahead.”   I also never thought I’d hear such a positive report from America’s autoworkers.

I grew up in Detroit, a child of the UAW and proud of it in my youth!  My father worked for Chrysler for more than 30 years and my mother was at GM almost as long. Yet by the 80s, I was in public relations in New York, representing  industry consultants Oliver Wight Companies and publicizing their books about the rise of quality control on production lines and why Japanese automakers understood it and Detroit’s corporate arrogance was in the way.

I’m still sad that it took bankruptcy to get Detroit’s Big Three back on track, especially since their troubles so heavily devastated my hometown.  But I hope you’ll take a moment to look over the CBS story at  and hear the resounding agreement from managers and employees:  Detroit’s auto industry has made a dramatic U-turn and is coming back. It’s a reaffirmation of the triumph of quality and teamwork.

One comment

  1. Ross Eisenbrey

    The Big 3 so lost track of quality and the needs of their customers that it’s a miracle they survived. I have friends who write about the industry (many of whom drive foreign cars), who nevertheless think labor costs and the UAW were the main causes of decline. In fact, even cutting labor costs in half wouldn’t have made a difference in the loss of market share. You got it right: the Big 3 were brought down by their executives’ arrogance, coupled with competitors who paid attention to quality and value.


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