Chrysler Dealers, Workers Face Uncertainty

by : Glady Reign

Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda asks the company's workers to concentrate on recovery amidst rumors. This is because the uncertainty that challenges both Chrysler's dealers and workers could be reflected on their faces and expressions. They are uncertain about the future of Chrysler Group hence also unsure of their future.

Uncertainty is written all over Auburn Hills and it leaves dealers and workers shaken. Both the dealers and the workers are essential to the positive comeback of Chrysler in the industry. However, the parties' anxiousness is gradually growing because of the speculation that swirls about the potential sale of the company. LaSorda asked white-collar workers to pour their energy into pulling off a restructuring of the beleaguered company even as they worry about whether they retain their jobs.

Retailers are wondering about the probable consequences if Chrysler is sold and especially if the purchaser would be General Motors Corp. If that happens, 3,700 dealers will be added to its list of dealers. The irony is that GM is now slashing its body of 7,000 retailers. To acquire more is to pose a greater burden and anxiety on the parties. LaSorda knows it is a difficult time for everybody. He is trying to reassure them that Chrysler's restructuring plan which calls for slashing 13,000 jobs and steep cuts in vehicle production will ensure the company has a future no matter how bleak it may seem at present.

"Our job is very clear," LaSorda said in a letter sent to employees late Wednesday. "Our mission is to produce great cars and trucks, to take care of our customers and to restore profitability. Whatever fork in the road we may take, we first have to make sure we're on the road -- and the (restructuring plan) is that road." LaSorda has also met with field sales staff members working with the company's dealers. He also intends to make a conference call with retailers to discuss the matters.

Last week, the automotive industry was shocked by the statement made by Dieter Zetsche, DaimlerChrysle CEO. According to him, the company is keeping all options open for Chrysler. And all options available include the possible sale of the company. "There's certainly angst," said Carl Galeana, the president of the Galeana Automotive Group, which has Dodge and Chrysler dealerships. "There's angst of the unknown."

"This is the most demoralizing thing I have ever experienced," said one Chrysler manager. "To be publicly raked over the coals like this is hard to swallow." Another worker even said, "Nobody knows what's going on because nothing is being filtered down."

"There have been talks of buyouts," said sales manager Brian Ackerman. "We have a lot of customers who don't know if they're going to be offered one or if they'd even accept. It's causing them to hold off." John Schenden, president of Pro Chrysler Jeep in Denver, has tried to motivate his team of managers and sales people who have asked questions about Chrysler's future and its dealer body. "I told my people, 'it's out of our control,'" Schenden said. "We have to just worry about our day-to-day business of selling cars."

In his letter to Chrysler employees, LaSorda responded to many questions raised by Zetsche's comments, the mass media, dealers as well as workers. He wrote that while legal requirements prevent him from responding to the reports, he wanted employees to keep in mind that Zetsche and DaimlerChrysler's management board "strongly endorsed" Chrysler's restructuring plan.

"We are a good company with great talent, and a clearly defined plan of action," LaSorda continued. "The best way to secure a successful future for the Chrysler Group is to focus on what we can control. Many of you may be familiar with the adage about accepting what you cannot change and taking charge of what you can control. We can learn a lot from this message."

At this point, Chrysler intends to bring out the best out of its investments, including the $3 billion-worth deal on new powertrains. While Ford is concentrating on the company's engines, , Land Rover brakes and other Jaguar auto parts; Chrysler is also focusing on quality and production.