Gary Convis for "Car Czar"


No Detroiters Need Apply – Automotive News

First off, I hate the whole “czar” term in our government. Ick.

But if we need a “car czar”, I can't think of a better candidate than Gary Convis, formerly of Toyota and Dana.

Automotive News writes:

Unfortunately, Washington also probably will rule out such highly qualified candidates as Gary Convis, the former head of Toyota's manufacturing operations in Georgetown, Ky. He has the benefit of not being a Detroit 3 grad.

You say you object to putting a former Toyota boss in charge of GM, Ford and Chrysler?

Convis DID work for both Ford and GM before Toyota. I think Convis is a great leader, he's a manufacturing guy, and a “gemba” guy. Who better to put some sense into the industry?? Click the “Convis” link below to read more about him or click here for my past posts.

I've seen Jack Welch's name floated around a few times. Are you kidding me? If you're a regular reader, you know what I think about his leadership style (or click here).

The only commenter on the Automotive News page suggested Ross Perot as a “true manufacturing person.” Um, not really.

On the topic, here's a commentary by Steven J. Spear about the automotive bailout. Stay tuned for a LeanBlog Podcast with Prof. Spear in the near future.

Another post by Matthew May, called “What Would Ohno Do?”

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Convis has my support.

    But the whole idea is pretty lame. He would need some actually authority, which he would likely not have, to do something useful. GM is fixable, but Ford and GM both blew great opportunities to change over the last few DECADES. GM and Ford, unfortunately have failed their stakeholders in many ways. It is a very sad state of affairs today.

    10 years from now I am confident millions of cars will be manufactured in the USA. I can’t see any reason to believe that GM, Ford or Chrysler on the door is any better than Toyota or Honda or BMW.

    The big issue to me is the massive disruption an extremely quick implosion of the big 3 would cause. So I think it is in the USA’s interest to avoid the implosion. Saving any of those 3 companies from the horrible job they have done I am far from convinced is in the interest of the USA.

  2. Curiouscat, I totally agree with your comments. In the short-term, it’s important to prevent an implosion; in the long-term, it makes no sense to subsidize failing companies. I’ve heard the idea floating around that any bailout money should go towards transforming the Detroit 3 into builders of sustainable transportation (mass-transit vehicles, hybrid automobiles, etc.).

    Is this feasible? Would it save jobs? Would it benefit the nation?

  3. Two quick thoughts.

    One…as a country, we are either going to give the companies money to keep them afloat long enough to potentially turn around the ship or we are going to immediately start paying to support the millions of people who will lose their jobs and the thousands more retirees who will be added to the Medicare/Medicaid and other aid program rolls. If you have a job and live in the US, your choice isn’t to pay or not to pay. Your choice is if you want to give them a loan or pay to support your fellow citizens who will be damaged by this.

    I can only hope that the companies have been “scared straight” by this series of events and will head in a better direction if given a chance. (Or perhaps it’s like the quote from the first episode of House this season. Almost dying changes nothing. Dying changes everything.)

    My second thought is that I don’t get this push to force the car makers to spend money to develop “alternative” or “sustainable” powered vehicles. (No offense intended, Mike.) These vehicles already exist. In my area, there are many hybrids on vehicle lots and hybrid city buses. The consumer isn’t buying or using them enough to make a difference. Ultimately, what caused the problems for the companies in the first place was ignoring the consumer. How is ignoring the consumer now and creating some new path supposed to solve the problem?

    FWIW, Convis was the first guy I thought of to take the “Czar” job, too. Too logical of a choice, though.

  4. Yes to Convis! But Washington would never do anything so sensible. I don’t think they really like manufacturing guys in general.


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