Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Ballad Of Rick Wagoner


You know it's really got to suck when the President of the United States asks you to step down from your job. Can you imagine what that must feel like? Can you imagine how embarrassing that must be? Would you want to tell your grandchildren one day... "Son, I ran the largest automobile manufacturer in the United States and the president felt as though I ran it so bad that he had to fire me?" I would not want to be him. The "him" in question is 56 year old Chief Operating Officer of General Motors, Rick Wagoner.

Time and time again, GM’s Board of Directors reaffirmed its support for Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, even as the company piled up billions of dollars in losses and begged for government loans to stay alive. But, Wagoner is now a high-profile casualty of government intervention, forced out as part of the Obama administration’s sweeping last-ditch effort to save the century-old auto giant.

The company said in a statement early on Monday that Wagoner, who spent 32 years with GM working all over the world, has stepped down effective immediately. He was replaced by Fritz Henderson, the company’s Vice-Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. By all accounts, Wagoner made progress in fixing GM. While he was CEO, he cut its U.S. work force from 177,000 to roughly 92,000 today.

Wagoner also closed factories, shed the unprofitable Oldsmobile brand; globalized GM’s engineering, manufacturing, and design to save billions; and led resurgence in quality and performance of its long-neglected cars. In 2007, the company reached a landmark agreement with the United Auto Workers that shifted massive retiree health care costs to a union-run trust and ushered in a $14.00/hour wage for new hires, which is about half the hourly wage of a current laborer.

But critics, including many members of Congress, say Wagoner moved too slowly, failing to cut enough of the company’s huge health care and pension costs, and relying too long on high-profit pick-up trucks and SUVs as gas prices rose and the market shifted toward smaller vehicles. In the past four years, GM has piled up $82 billion in losses. Jeremy Anwyl, Chief Executive of the automotive website Edmunds.com, said that "Wagoner still had the company moving in the right direction but, was he moving fast enough or bold enough? Obviously, in light of what we know today, the answer would be no.”

While ousting Wagoner, the Obama administration made no management changes at Chrysler LLC, which also is getting government loans. Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli has only been in charge there since August 2007. David Cole, Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI said Wagoner’s departure probably will have little impact on GM’s restructuring efforts because Henderson was the heir-apparent in GM’s succession plans.

So, I reiterate... it's got to suck being Rick Wagoner right about now but, on the other hand, he probably (and I really mean, more than likely) is going to walk away with a nice package that includes more liquid assets (ca$h money) than I or most of you can spend in a lifetime. In the same breath he can also tell his grandchildren, "Yeah, the President fired me but, I walked away with a knot. How do ya like me now?"

21 comments:

CareyCarey said...

Nice post Keith

I don't know what it is man but we are on this same vibe. I just wrote a post on this guy ...well, yesterday. I'll reserve my comments. Of course mine wasn't as well written as yours (and silly) but whos is.

Strongblkwmn said...

I think he walked away with 23 million. I wonder how he really feels about being asked to step down.

Toni said...

You are so silly-lololol..but you speak the truth!

Angie B. said...

You aint never lied...He's not feeling too bad right now...I heard he got 23 Mill.

Sunflower said...

Good Post...and so true.

Lisa said...

"How Ya like me now." That's so 90's...lololol..but it was funny and appropriate.

Vanessa said...

"Yeah the President Fired me, but I walked away with a knot."
LMBAO...You are crazy Keith,lololol.

Halo said...

Good Post Keith...The picture of this economy still looks bleak,

Anonymous said...
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James Perkins said...

I'm glad you pointed out the positive things he did. He is basically a scapegoat for decades of falty management..Just like the President of AIG. Good Post, as usual.

Simon Bastion said...

Good Post..I thought you would mention that Chrysller was told to make a deal with Fiat. Perhaps an oversight...I never thought that Fiat made such great cars or profitable cars...It's going to be interesting to see how that deal goes.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

Anybody that walks away from a job with 23 Mill aint feelin embarrassed about nothin.

Jazzy said...

Nice Post Keith..I was waiting foer your take on this..As usual it was on point and funny.

Tate2 said...

"Yes kids, The President Fired Me, but I walked away with a knot..."
LMBAO...Keith ,that was off the chain...You crazy man....lolololol.

Swaggie said...

Amazing the President asked him to step down...but I can certainly see
that. If the government has to step in and bail the company out..it would be an insult to allow the same management that drove it into the ground to still be in place.

Sean said...

Good Post Keith. I found it interesting that the Obama Administration didn't do a simular thing with the leadership of Chrysler LLC, instead telling them to make a deal with another unprofitable company, Fiat. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

Captain Jack said...

Good Post...It just distresses me the way our entire economy just seems to have gone into the tank so rapidly. I certainly hope it turns itself around.

Rich Fitzgerald said...

No doubt the shame of it all will pass soon and dude will lay low for a year or so and get picked up by someone else. Basically, he showed that he can publicly fall on his sword and not cry about it in the process.

Thoughts of a Southern gal said...

$23 million! Nuff said!

The Dreamy One said...

Guy is probably happy he stepped down.23 million, hell he is probably throwing himself a party

Hopefully that company gets it together!!!

Kofi Bofah said...

Signals that the U.S. government believes that GM has a chance - while Chrysler is dead.




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