Suppliers who know Bo Andersson, General Motors' new day-to-day purchasing boss, say he is tough but fair. They say he is not likely to make drastic changes in the company's purchasing policy.
Andersson has been put in charge of global purchasing effective September 1. He takes over the day-to-day operations from Harold Kutner, 59, group vice president of worldwide purchasing. Kutner's new role will be integrating GM's purchasing activities to speed up delivery time.
Andersson, a 43-year-old Swede, is very much a product of Kutner's global purchasing empire.
Five years ago, Kutner took over GM's purchasing operation shortly after the charismatic Inaki Lopez left the company.
Kutner continued Lopez' campaign to convert the bureaucracy into a nimbler global operation.
As the highest ranking European in GM's Detroit headquarters, Andersson is in a good position to complete that transition.
The former Saab executive joined General Motors in 1993 shortly after Lopez departed for Volkswagen. After Kutner was named top purchaser in 1994, Andersson - GM's then executive director of electrical parts - reported directly to Kutner.
Andersson helped Kutner carry out his purchasing strategy, offering bigger sales volumes to suppliers in return for price cuts.
According to suppliers, Andersson - a former Swedish army officer - fits the Kutner mold as a tough negotiator.
'He has been a wonderboy,' said one supplier who has dealt with Andersson. 'When he left Saab, he came to Detroit and was very aggressive - a very hard charger.'
Both Kutner and Andersson declined requests for interviews.
In recent months, Kutner has hinted that GM will soften its emphasis on low prices somewhat for suppliers who offer cutting-edge technology. But suppliers do not expect Kutner - or his eventual successor - to adopt a Chrysler-style interactive purchasing strategy.
'I think it will be business as usual,' the executive said.
Andersson currently is vice president of supply for GM Europe. Since his appointment to the GM Europe post in March 1997, Andersson's job was to make sure Opel's new European models came to market on tiem. Andersson oversaw the successful introduction of the new Astra and Zafira. The Astra is running a close race with the Volkswagen Golf for the European sales lead, and GM is expanding production of the Zafira to meet demand.
GM executives have heralded the Zafira compact minivan introduction as the company's best new vehicle launch in Europe. Recently, GM Europe said it already has more than 100,000 orders for the compact van that was introduced several months ago, exceeding Opel's most optimistic forecast.
During these model launches, one of Andersson's biggest concerns has been quality, an issue that has hurt GM Europe in the recent past.
'Quality has been our major focus during the past few years,' Andersson said in a recent interview with Automotive News Europe.
Robert Socia, 45, will take over Andersson's GM Europe and management board responsibilities at Opel. Socia is currently executive director for chemicals at the worldwide purchasing group.