DETROIT -- For General Motors to prosper when it emerges from bankruptcy, it needs to find a new Bo Andersson: a purchasing boss who can cut billions of dollars in costs every year.
On Friday, June 12, Andersson left GM. He was instrumental in cutting $2 billion annually from the automaker's parts bill as GM group vice president for purchasing and supply chain since 2001.
GM said Andersson was leaving "to pursue other career interests," and said a successor would be named soon. Andersson, 53, a former Swedish army major, did not have an heir apparent. Here are three possible successors, according to people familiar with GM's purchasing organization:
-- Tom McMillen, GM of Europe's vice president of global purchasing and supply chain.
-- Kevin Williams, North American vice president of service and parts operations.
-- Robert Socia, executive vice president of General Motors China Group.
Andersson's successor must fill big shoes. The job involves managing 6,000 GM employees globally and 3,300 direct global suppliers in 47 countries.
Andersson tracked 190,000 part numbers and kept parts flowing despite earthquakes, floods and manmade disasters.
"Bo has made tremendous contributions to the development of our global purchasing and supply chain strategy as we've globalized our product line portfolios and manufacturing footprint," CEO Fritz Henderson said in a statement.
Anderson relied heavily on data to gauge a supplier's performance, tracking quality, plant disruptions, warranty issues and other measurements. Cards for each supplier's performance, illustrated in traffic light colors, decorated his suburban Detroit offices.
GM has long had a reputation for aggressive tactics. "This is a good industry to be in if you are strong and a bad one if you are weak," Andersson once said.
His constant weeding out of suppliers generated anger among small and large parts makers alike. In one case, a supplier executive, upset about being forced to lay off employees because of a GM purchasing decision, grabbed Andersson by the tie.
When he thought prices were too high, Andersson lured new players into the fray -- French interior supplier Faurecia, for example -- to increase competition.
But he also worked hard to improve communications with suppliers. As GM's bankruptcy loomed, he inaugurated weekly video conferences with GM's top suppliers.
He was not well liked by suppliers. But they did trust him. And they appreciated his ethics. He required that all contracts be signed in his office with a witness to avoid any hint of impropriety.