Chrysler Taps a New CPO: What Can Manufacturers Learn from Retail?

Over on Supply Excellence, Tim Minahan has the scoop that Chrysler has hired former Home Depot procurement chief, John Campi. After leaving Home Depot last year, the gregarious Campi focused on building his own consulting practice and Chrysler was one of his clients. According to Tim, while "at The Home Depot, Campi helped fuel the retailers surge to market leadership by keeping a lid on costs and establishing reliable supply lines from far off locales to store shelves. This formula worked well at Home Depot. So why mess with it. Nardelli is hoping Campi will deliver a repeat performance in Chrysler’s revival." One of Campi's primary initial objectives will no doubt be repairing "Chrysler’s existing supplier relationships," as Tim points out.

Chrysler will need Campi to do more than just find additional savings dollars and to build more collaborative relationships with suppliers. They'll also need someone who can instill a culture of partnering with suppliers when it comes to building better vehicles and engineering out cost from the start. This is a practice that turned Honda and Toyota into the OEMs to beat in automotive, driving up both quality and margins. And it's why I drive a Honda Odyssey and not a Chrysler Town and Country (trust me, there's no comparison -- one drives a sedan, the other drives like well, a Detroit boat). But perhaps by working more closely with suppliers to design a better next generation product, Campi will improve his company's family truckster -- a key source of revenue for Chrysler -- enough to the point where I'll have to give it serious consideration.

- Jason Busch

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