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>Bon Voyage, Rick Wagoner

>On the day Congress decides on further funding to save GM, Ford, and Chrysler at least one lawmaker, Chris Dodd of Connecticut is calling for the ouster of chairman/ceo Rick Wagner of GM.

Not that he’s such a bad guy, he just fell asleep at the wheel and lost GM the prestige and direction that almost pushed them into bankruptcy. Dodd insists that if he’s going to vote for GM money, Wagoner must go. Who is this guy, Wagoner?

He became president and chief executive officer in June 2000 and was elected chairman on May 1, 2003. During his reign, GM shares have plummeted from $70 in June 2006 to as low as $2.79 in Nov 2008, a loss of approximately 96%.

The operational improvements that Wagoner helped make in the decade, starting when he was chief financial officer and later as chief operating officer was reflected in GM lead over the rest of the U.S. Big Three car companies. After GM lost $30 billion during a single three-year stretch in the early ’90s, Wagoner and Chairman John F. “Jack” Smith Jr. forced GM “back to basics” to battle “30 years o of management mistakes” that left him with little room to maneuver.

In an interview, Wagoner stated that the worst decision of his tenure at GM was “axing the EV1 electric-car program and not putting the right resources into hybrids. It didn’t affect profitability, but it did affect image.” The effect on the image was that the perception of GM changed from being viewed as a technology innovator, into a perception of the company as having little interest in innovationin a market with high demand for hybrid and electric vehicles, and leading to observations that GM, under Wagoner’s leadership, failed to see clearly obvious trends.

In April 2005 Wagoner took back personal control of GM’s North American car division in light of its poor performance. In early June 2005 Wagoner announced that GM in the United States would close several plants and shed 25,000 employees by 2008. The cuts will result in GM production reducing output by one million cars and trucks (from 6 million to 5 million). In 2008 Wagoner came under renewed pressure as GM sought financial support from the U.S. government in an attempt to avoid bankruptcy.

Wagoner is a member of the boards of trustees of Duke University, Detroit Country Day School, the Board of Dean’s Advisors of the Harvard Business School, and the Board of Directors of Catalyst. He is a member of The Business Council, The Business Roundtable, Detroit Renaissance Executive Committee, and the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board.

Just goes to show you: when you get to involved in outside activities, you take your eye off the ball.

See also


  1. ^Rick Wagoner’s Game Plan“, BusinessWeek (200302-10). Retrieved on 15 January 2008.
  2. ^ “Interview With Rick Wagoner,” Motor Trend magazine, June 2006, p. 94
  3. ^ John McGrath, Grist Mill: Environmental News and Commentary, June 28 2006
  4. ^Why Toyota Is Becoming the World’s Top Carmaker“, Newsweek“. Retrieved on 2008-05-19
  5. ^ Big Three bankruptcy worries on rise – Aug. 6, 2008
  6. ^ “GM’s biggest problem: lack of credibility” (on site)
  7. ^ Alex Taylor III, MotorWorld, “Rick Wagoner tries to catch a falling knife – and fails”, Fortune Magazine, July 2008. (web version (accessed Sept. 25, 2008)

External links