Other Editorials

Annual Meeting

Jim Dollinger
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Well another one in the books. Once again what should have been an open dialogue between shareholders turned instead into another rendition of the Red Ink Rick media show. I for one am sick of hearing the term "turnaround". Actually this company needs to "reverse", going back to what made us successful in the past. Under Mr Wagoner it's the same old story...more closings, cuts, jobs eliminated, assets up for sale, and heavier borrowing.

Wilmington is a nice city but coming here is gettiing depressing. Listening to Wagoner trying to gloss over the negative news is something bordering on comedy. Our troubles are always blamed on one excuse after another. Either it's health care costs, pension liabilities, exchange rates, government regulations, trade policies, fuel prices, the weather, wages, material costs, or the competition. NEVER does management look in the mirror and accept responsibility for their failure. Yet it is the job of management to deal with the aforementioned concerns and produce a profitable return for investors. Even so, the executives in charge at GM will not change, it's not in their self interest. Don't spend much time waiting for the Board of Bystanders to do anything about it either.

As I do every year, I spoke in the meeting about the real problem at GM, namely our marketing. We have the worst in the industry. There is a different way of doing business. There are solutions available.

Look for example at the marketing of Buick. The so called experts at GM have changed the slogan so often in the past couple years, it's hard to keep up. We've gone from "Spirit of American Style" to "One Better" to "It's All Good" to "Dream Up" to "Beyond Precision" to "Drive Beautiful". Add to this the most ridiculous incentive structure imaginable, confusion beyond belief. How in the world could anyone realistically expect to have any strength of brand imaging when the sands are constantly shifting? Is it any surprise that the average Buick dealer delivers only three units per month?

We need to remember the bit about doing the same things and expecting different results. Ain't gonna happen. That's why GM continues to steadily lose market share and why they will continue doing so. Until someone at GM steps up and implements significant change in our marketing, the "turnaround" will just keep going in circles.

How far can Wagoner go with his surgery? How many more Billions will we lose before people get together and rid this company of the man responsible for virtually destroying GM? He has alienated employees, built mistrust amongst retirees, starved Buick dealers of product, taken control of retail with a nightmare plethora of rebates, bankrupted suppliers, and disillusioned customers to the point of no return. And the man didn't know the price of gas was going up? We've been informed that the financial statements aren't accurate. Apparently our economists aren't any better than our accountants.

some video and photos: