Chrysler’s Press to Empower Employees, Dealers

Press says the foresight of Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management gives the auto maker a great advantage.

Jim Press appears to be on the same page as his new boss at Chrysler LLC.

The auto maker’s new vice chairman and president in charge of international sales and marketing says his goal is to free Chrysler employees to “do what they need to do to take care of the customer.”

These words echo those of CEO and Chairman Bob Nardelli, who told journalists earlier this month that he is “a huge believer in reinvesting in our human capital.”

Press makes his remarks on, a Chrysler blog aimed at the news media.

“One of the things I’ve learned over the years is the talent in the organization doesn’t rest wherever the executive floor might be,” Press says.

While Press’ defection from rival Toyota Motor Corp. was seen as a coup for Chrysler by industry analysts, Press says there is “no silver bullet” to success.

“It’s about empowering the organization, driving decision making closer to the level where they know what needs to be done,” he says.

Press says the foresight of Chrysler owner Cerberus Capital Management LP gives the auto maker a great advantage.

“We have been given the opportunity to earmark a ton of money for development of advanced products,” Press says. Chrysler declines to say how much.

Meanwhile, Press says one of the reasons he joined Chrysler was its veteran dealer network and strong workforce.

The addition of Press is expected to mend Chrysler’s dealer relations, which were strained because of the inventory glut that developed last year.

In his first week on the job, Press makes a point to visit three Chrysler dealerships, including Parkway Chrysler Jeep in Clinton Township, MI.

Chuck Riley, owner of Parkway Chrysler Jeep, says he was impressed by Press, who was accompanied by Nardelli and Steve Landry, executive vice president of North American sales.

“Jim is a straight-up guy, you believe everything he says to you,” Riley tells Ward’s. “He’s very concerned with dealer profitability and understands that it’s crucial to his success and the new company’s success.

During his visit, Press “talked to everybody,” Riley says, noting that he went so far as to ask the people who clean the cars about the quality of the paint and offered frame-straightening tips to body-shop personnel.

Another dealer visited by Press, who asked to remain anonymous, says he too was impressed.

“He’s absolutely a great guy, very personable,” he says.

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TAGS: Dealers Retail
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