Troubled suppliers pose a real risk to every automaker and to their large suppliers.
Sharon Silke Carty - USA TODAY
- Mar 10, 2009
Everyone forgets about the suppliers to the Big 3 --Ed.
BURTON, Mich. — In 2001, Laurie Schmald Moncrieff gave her 35 workers some homework.
Moncrieff, a third-generation family owner of auto supplier Schmald Tool & Die near Flint, Mich., asked her workers to read Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, a self-help book that deals with big life changes.
Moncrieff worried her employees were too accustomed to making car parts to quickly adjust to changes she saw coming.
"They looked at me as if I was nuts," she says. "But I have been saying that change is coming. It felt like I was there on a track watching the train coming, and no one was listening to me."
She hoped her workers would take away the message that the days of being just a supplier to auto companies were quickly ending.
From a bare-bones office at her plant, Moncrieff works 16-hour days trying to win new business, lobby the state and federal governments to change laws affecting small manufacturers and keep her business funded. It's exhausting, she says, but she doesn't know what else to do. "You can sit there and talk about all the bad things that are happening, or you can do something. I'm trying to do something."