By Shawn Wright, Automotive News
Detroit, Michigan -- Dan Knott, head of purchasing for Chrysler Group, says the automaker's days of behaving badly toward its suppliers are in the past.
Knott spoke Thursday at the 2010 SAE World Congress as part of a panel of purchasing executives.
"The days of the arrogant" automaker, he said, "where we forced suppliers to kneel at our door and sprinkle rose petals before they come in, absolutely has to be over. It's a collaborative business. If we work together, we'll have a better equation at the end."
Since taking his current position in December, Knott's main focus has been to repair relations with suppliers, many of which were demoralised during the days when Cerberus Capital Management owned Chrysler. Cerberus appointees made noises about working collaboratively with suppliers -- then sued a number of them.
Knott said he has met with about 80 suppliers this year. He said he makes sure that before any talks about future projects begin, he discusses with them any earlier strained ties between the two sides.
"If I talk about integrity and transparency with you, and we have legacy issues that we never talk about, it's a little disingenuous, isn't it?" Knott said.
He said that paying suppliers on time and direct dialogue have improved relations between Chrysler and its suppliers. Problems that once took two years to solve now take two weeks, Knott said.
"I think we're absolutely moving in the right direction," he said.
Knott reiterated Chrysler's plan to pay suppliers at certain milestones a percentage of what they are owed, a sharp departure from the piece-payments approach of the past.
In January, Knott told Automotive News that it took Chrysler an average of 287 days from the time a supplier submitted a claim to the time Chrysler did its analysis and agreed to pay. Under Knott's watch, Chrysler launched a claim resolution process at the end of last year. In January, he said that Chrysler had reduced the payment timeline to 105 days.
Knott began his career at Chrysler in 1988 as senior engineer of air and fuel emission systems.