Many of you will have learnt from the auto bailout news coverage that GM, Chrysler and Ford between them owe about $10B to their suppliers. You may also have learnt if you did not know already facts such as the following:
-Parts and components provided by auto suppliers (car seats, dashboard consoles, doors, windows, axles, wheels, brakes, etc.) constitute over 70% of the cost of a vehicle rolling off the production line in Detroit.
-While GM, Ford and Chrysler employ 239,000 people in the United States, the country’s 3,000 or so auto suppliers employ more than 600,000 workers
The "so what" about the above two nuggets is that the "auto industry" DOES NOT EQUAL GM + Chrysler + Ford although you would never have thought so from either the news coverage or the way that the recent $17.4B emergency bailout package was doled out. The Big 3 comprise CONSIDERABLY LESS THAN ONE HALF of the auto industry by either of the two measures above. And yet there is absolutely no guarantee that those auto suppliers in the greatest financial distress and/or those that are most critical to the auto industry supply chain will receive one penny of the initial $13.4B to be distributed to GM and Chrysler. Them two's got their own executive salaries and UAW wages to pay first. Auto suppliers will be paid strictly on a "what's left over" basis.
By way of an additional industry insight, I was speaking to a friend of mine who works at one of the auto industry's major tier one suppliers (i.e. one that sells auto assemblies and components directly to one of the Big 3) who told me that of the $10B owed to the auto suppliers over 50% consists of payables that are aged over 90 days. He also told me that many of the industry's lower tier suppliers (those that sell to the tier ones) are facing payment terms of net 120 days or worse (payment term lengths magnify as you go further down the supply chain). In other words they just don't get paid. It's not surprising then that hundreds of these lower tier suppliers have either gone out of business or will be out of business in the early part of 2009. To make matters worse many of these suppliers produce critical parts and/or tooling that could bring the entire auto supply chain to a halt if they are delivered late (or worse, not delivered at all) to a tier one vendor.
Okay so I'm being long winded again, what is my point here? My point is that surely there should be some type of strategy in place to guide the bailout funds to those parts of the auto industry supply chain that are most critical to driving higher levels of financial and operating performance for the industry as a whole. Sure, a substantial part of this should go to GM and Chrysler. But from my argument above, less than half. When President Elect Obama takes office he should form a Bailout Funds Distribution Team of auto industry experts to define a financial rescue package that ensures money is distributed among the Big 3, key tier one suppliers and supply chain-critical lower tier suppliers in a way that positively impacts holistic demand/supply chain performance metrics. Leave the distribution of bailout money up to the executive suites of GM and Chrysler and with what's left for auto suppliers you'd be lucky to be able to afford a year's subscription to the Jelly of the Month club.
1 Procurement Place
Non-spin commentary on the world of procurement, supported every now and then by the occasional piece of factual information.
Mark is Founder and CEO of SpendWorx LLC, a provider of spend analytics services. Prior to SpendWorx Mark co-founded Treya Partners, a boutique procurement consultancy. Earlier in his career Mark held various positions at Accenture, GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce.