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Reuss faces up to GM challenges

GM leadership team: Sales, service and marketing vice-president Susan Docherty, North America president Mark Reuss, vice-chairman Bob Lutz, vice-chairman Tom Stephens and chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre at Detroit last week.

Former Holden boss Mark Reuss vows to win back GM customers - one by one

General Motors logo19 Jan 2010

THE new president of General Motors North America, former GM Holden chief Mark Reuss, admits he is facing a big challenge to win back the trust of US consumers following the government bail-out and restructuring.

“The customer in this country is going to have some kind of opinion of GM after we come off of bankruptcy,” he said in Detroit last week.

“So how do we fix that? We have to fix it one customer at a time. You can’t come out with an ad saying ‘Trust Us’ - it ain’t going to happen.”

Mr Reuss is looking at taking a hands-on approach and that means picking up the phone.

“It is going to happen if I start calling customers and make sure the cars are delivered on time… There was a Cobalt owner that had a wheelhouse liner that had come off during winter driving and thought there was something wrong with the car because it was making noise,” he said.

“I had two of my engineers drive eight hours in a snow storm to Pennsylvania to fix the car, wash the car and deliver it back. This is what we are going to do,” he said.

“There are no parlour tricks on this - this is going to be hard and it is hard. I don’t know about you guys, but helping customers is very rewarding to me.”

 center imageLeft: Mark Reuss (right) with US speaker of the house and California congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who plugs in the Chevrolet Volt at the Detroit show on January 11.Mr Reuss, who left his position as GM Holden managing director last year to take up the position of global engineering chief before he was selected for his latest role, said improvements could also be made when it comes to product.

“Market position and placing product correctly is something which we haven’t done on a consistent basis with all brands because we have had the money to do it,” he said.

Streamlining the dealership body with reforms that are currently being resisted by some dealers and strengthening ties with remaining dealers is important, Mr Reuss said.

“We are going through to get the right dealership body with integrity, get the right the relationships with the dealers back,” he said.

Mr Reuss, who said he plans to retire to Australia, said that if he acts properly in his position, others will likely follow which will help move GM move forward.

“It has got to start with me and it has to start with leadership,” he said.

“How do you change the culture in GM? The culture to me is just how the leadership and beyond behaves. So if you have people behaving the wrong way, then others are going to behave the wrong way and they are not going to trust you, they are not going to believe you and it just goes on and on and on,” he said.

Mr Reuss admitted he never aspired to his current job when asked if he wanted to take the job of GM chairman.

“I had no ambition to have the job I have,” he said.

Mr Reuss indicated he was enjoying his position at the head of global engineering, before the latest shake up left him in his new role.

“Being an engineer in the company is a great thing and I enjoyed it for four months,” he said.

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