New GM exec quits after only 9 days

General Motors Co. today confirmed Buick GMC General Manager Michael Richards has quit after nine days on the job.

"We wish him the best," said Susan Docherty, GM's vice president of sales, service and marketing, who did not name a replacement.

The confirmation comes less than 24 hours after the surprise retirement of Chevrolet Vice President Brent Dewar, who had been appointed to lead the automaker's largest and most important brand five months ago.

Richards, who departed "to pursue other career opportunities," was most recently vice president of marketing and sales for the global automotive business at Trilogy, based in Austin, Texas.

Trilogy made a strong counteroffer to keep Richards, and he was said to be considering that offer in light of Friday's management shakeup engineered by Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Richards, 52, replaced Docherty, who was appointed GM vice president in charge of U.S. sales in October.

Prior to his time at Trilogy, he was a consultant to J.D. Power and Associates in Troy. In that capacity, he led the company's efforts to develop products to improve customer satisfaction, market share and profitability for newly launched vehicles. He also developed a syndicated index to measure new vehicle launch performance.

Dewar, meanwhile, is being replaced by James Campbell, 45, who ran GM's fleet and commercial operations, and will serve as Chevrolet general manager.

Dewar, 54, was appointed to the job by ousted CEO Fritz Henderson in July after serving as GM Europe's vice president, sales, marketing and after-sales.

Dewar spent 31 years at GM and was perceived to be closely aligned with Henderson, who resigned under pressure from the board of directors last week.

"He was a Fritz guy and that can put you in some element of concern," said Rebecca Lindland, IHS Global Insight director of automotive research. "The GM-lifer stamp is not a stamp of approval. These are people whose careers are measured in decades and now the results are measured in months."

The Chevrolet position is a key job because GM anticipates the brand accounting for about 70 percent of its sales.

Chevy's sales for November were 99,663, an increase of 4.8 percent from a year ago, accounting for 13.3 percent of the market. Chevrolet has arguably two of GM's most important launches next year with the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car and the Cruze compact.

The Volt is expected to help change perceptions about GM while the Cruze is expected to be a high-volume, fuel-efficient vehicle that gets up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway.

"Jim (Campbell) has a strong track record of building relationships and partnerships with dealers and customers, and deep Chevrolet experience," Docherty said. "His energy, drive for results and willingness to take risks are great assets for leading the growing global Chevrolet brand."

Campbell joined GM in 1988 and has been involved with launches of the Chevrolet Impala, Monte Carlo, Colorado and Corvette. He also has worked in field sales, retail incentives, marketing and customer-relationship management. Detroit News

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