General Motors announces changes at the top - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

General Motors announces changes at the top

Mary Barra Mary Barra

Big changes are afoot at General Motors. Gerry Dick with Inside Indiana Business joined Eyewitness News at Noon to talk about the news.

Tim Solso, a former CEO of Cummins, will become the new chairman of General Motors. GM also announced Mary Barra will become the new leader of GM in January. She'll become GM's first female CEO.

Barra was likely part a group of three or four candidates being considered for the job, Dick said.

"I think it makes a statement that a lot of those insiders, the people who follow the company, aren't really surprised. She's highly respected. She does become the first female CEO of a global auto company and she comes in a at an interesting time for General Motors. The US Treasury just yesterday gave up its final stake in General Motors so the company can now distance itself from that so-called 'government motors' moniker," Dick said. 

"It's been enjoying consecutive months of profitability, but the company still faces huge problems with big expenses related to pension and health costs from the old days. They're going to have to make some very tough decisions," he added.

GM will also have to consider eliminating certain vehicles that haven't been selling well. That could have a potential impact on Indiana, since GM has plants in Bedford and Fort Wayne. Both of those plants have received investments over the years. "The hope here, obviously, is that that continues," said Dick.

Solso, the former Cummins, chairman, "did great things at the Columbus-based company. A DePauw University graduate. He took the role as chairman of Cummins in 2000. There were a lot of people, including Solso himself, who wondered if the company would survive. They were faced with huge debt coming out of the recession. Their products weren't selling. Lots of problems. He told me on a number of occasions how difficult it was going to New York and talking to investors and trying to sell the story. He authored a big turnaround by embracing - not running away from - environmental standards. He also cut costs; he cut employees. They made some difficult decisions. But he really authored in a decade of profits at Cummins that turned that company around."

MarketWatch named him one of the top five CEOs of the decade, Dick says, and he thinks GM can benefit from Solso's leadership.

Catch Inside Indiana Business with Gerry Dick on Sundays at 11:00 am on WTHR Channel 13.1.
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