As the company continues early production of its important new full-size pickup trucks, Akerson has elevated Alicia Boler-Davis to senior vice president of global quality and global customer experience. She had been a vice president of global quality and U.S. customer experience, reporting to Mary Barra, GM’s senior vice president of global product development.
Boler-Davis will now report directly to Akerson. The promotion came a week after GM earned the top spot among major auto manufacturers in the widely watched J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study that measure customer problems in the first 90 days of ownership.
Akerson made the announcement before a crowd of about 2,000 GM employees on Wednesday at the automaker’s Warren Technical Center to celebrate GM’s performance in the annual survey.
GM was the best-performing major auto manufacturer overall in the consumer study for the first time in its history and individual models from its brands took the top spot in eight of the vehicle market segments. The Chevrolet brand beat stalwarts like Toyota and Honda.
Calling the celebration his “most memorable day” since becoming CEO in September 2010, Akerson urged employees to guard against complacency. “This award gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to be on top,” he said.
But Akerson seemed a little uncomfortable, as a band of GM engineers played music, employees cheered him on and Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer made a surprise appearance to congratulate the workers. An early test of whether GM’s quality momentum is sustainable is the manufacturing launch of redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups.
The pickups are critical to GM’s performance in North America because they are among the company’s most profitable vehicles, and they are coming to market when a rebounding housing market and rising consumer confidence should bolster an already strong pickup market.
Akerson said early indications suggest the start of manufacturing for the Silverado and Sierra is “probably our best launch ever.” That could help explain the promotion of Boler-Davis, who has impressed GM’s leadership team with her emphasis on high-quality vehicles and improving communication with customers.
Her promotion comes just 16 months after she earned the U.S. vice president of customer experience role. She was previously manager of GM’s Orion Township assembly plant.
Boler-Davis called quality improvement “a team sport” and said it’s vital that GM boost its rate of customer retention. Every 1% improvement equals about 25,000 vehicles and $700 million in annual revenue for GM.
“Long gone are the days when we could launch a new vehicle with problems and plan to fix them later,” Boler-Davis said. “We need the first car off the line to be as good as the last.”
article by Nathan Bomey, Detroit Free Press via usatoday.com