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14 May 2012 | Adam Leach
Chrysler and General Motors (GM) improved their relations with suppliers for the fifth consecutive year, but continue to lag behind their rivals.
The latest North American OEM Supplier Working Relations Study, published today by consultancy Planning Perspectives found the gap between those at the top and the bottom is closing, with Toyota, which continues to hold the highest reputation, falling in the eyes of suppliers.
The study was based on the responses from 439 first tier suppliers to the automotive industry, and scored customers across a number of categories, which produces a score between 100 and 500.
Chrysler scored 248 compared with 221 in 2011, while GM scored 251, up from 236. While Toyota remained at the top, it saw its score fall from 327 to 296 and second place Honda fell from 309 to 293. Ford was in third place with a score of 267, ahead of Nissan with a score of 256.
Speaking to SM, John Henke, president of Planning Perspectives and a professor at Oakland University, highlighted the vital roles played by Bob Socia, vice president, global purchasing and supply chain at GM and Dan Knott, who served as vice president of purchasing and supplier quality at Chrysler until mid-April and died from cancer this month, had played in improving their respective companies reputations.
“In the last couple of years they have had purchasing heads who absolutely convinced that supplier relations are essential to the welfare of the their companies. Both of them have pushed their people to do what was necessary to improve supplier relations and the results have borne fruit,” he said.
Henke explained while Knott’s role in the progress has been key, there should be a lasting legacy of improvement. He said replacement Scott Kunselman had a good reputation amongst buyers and suppliers, and added his background in the company’s engineering operations would enable him to work with suppliers on technical matters.
He attributed the drop in relations of the two Japanese manufacturers to the severe disruptions experienced by the two manufacturers - particularly Toyota - as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the flooding in Thailand.
He said the companies were hit so hard, that they had to just focus on keeping things running. As a result, there was less focus on supplier relations. He expects that this year will see a return to normality for Japanese manufacturers and expects their scores to rise again.