DETROIT — Chrysler purchasing honcho John Campi says his hard-nosed style of supplier relations — which critics say amounts to using the courts to bring companies to heel — is paying off handsomely.
Campi says he'll stick with the strategy. This month Chrysler LLC hauled one of its biggest suppliers into court to resolve a dispute that in the past would have been settled with backroom diplomacy. It is the second time that has happened this year. And Chrysler forced another supplier into bankruptcy instead of helping bail it out.
Why risk bad blood with crucial partners at such a difficult time? Suppliers say a weakened Chrysler has less clout when it comes to making parts makers bend to its will. Disputes are more apt to end up in court.
Indeed, surveys show that Chrysler's supplier relations have deteriorated this year, and a growing number of suppliers aren't sure they want to continue selling parts to the company.
But the strategy also reflects a tough-minded purchasing boss in Campi, an automotive outsider with a decisive style and scant regard for deep-rooted industry traditions.
When troubled Plastech Engineered Products Inc. quietly asked Chrysler and other automaker customers for a third bailout in February, Campi canceled purchase orders and tried to retrieve Chrysler's plastic-making tools.