09/25/07 — UAW strike won't have big effect here

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UAW strike won't have big effect here

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on September 25, 2007 1:52 PM

Local automotive industry officials are not expecting the first nationwide strike against General Motors Corp. in more than 35 years to have much of an impact in Wayne County.

They explained that at least in the short term, none of them -- with the unknown exception of Cooper Standard Automotive, for which representatives could not be reached for comment -- do enough business with GM for the walkout to have a significant effect on their production, profits or labor force.

"I don't really have a substantial comment on (the strike)," said Doug May, plant manager for Cooper-Bussman -- Division of McGraw Edison. "But I don't anticipate it being a major impact to our business at all."

He explained that contracts that the fuse and fuse box company have with GM make up only a fraction of their production.

"It's not going to make or break us," May said.

The same goes for Uchiyama America, which produces seals and gaskets.

"It will not have hardly any impact," company President and CEO Matt Sueki said. "We deal primarily with Japanese automakers, such as Toyota and Nissan."

Trevor Martel, plant manager for AP Exhaust Products also expects to be fairly well insulated from any aftershocks from the strike.

"We don't do any business with GM," he said. "We're in a completely different market. We're 100 percent after-market."

He was, however, disappointed to see the negotiations between GM and the United Auto Workers come to this impasse.

"It's discouraging because the American car industry is trying to get itself back on its feet and this doesn't help any," he said.

But even those county businesses perhaps most at risk from a drawn-out fight are trying to keep an optimistic view -- in spite of the announcement by the Teamsters transportation union that its automotive transport members will not cross UAW picket lines to deliver GM cars and trucks.

Eddie Price, general sales manager for Doug Henry Buick-Pontiac-GMC, estimated that they have about a three-month supply of inventory on hand.

Chris Ledingham, general sales manager for Chevrolet Cadillac of Goldsboro, also said they have plenty of cars on the lot, adding that in his opinion, with a number of sales programs ongoing, it's "still a great time to come buy a car."

"GM anticipated the strike coming so we built up our inventory," he said.

But he did waiver a bit when asked what might happen if the strike continues for more than a month or two.

"We'll just have to make sure we have enough vehicles on the lot, which we do right now," Ledingham said. "We're hoping it doesn't go long, but who knows."

Dan Wise, owner of Dan Wise Chevrolet in La Grange, also estimated that their day supply was probably sufficient for about 60 days, but said his biggest concern will be his ability to respond to customers' specific requests.

"Inventory is always a concern. You just have so many special needs and sometimes you can't respond to them," he said. "I think in the short term we'll be OK, but anytime you have something like this going on, it's going to affect the cycle.

"I'm disappointed in the strike and I'm disappointed in the union. I don't think the strike accomplishes anything other than create hard feelings."