The U.S. and Germany: harmony at last
In the early 1920s, the Maxwell Motor Car Company invited Walter Chrysler to revive its bankrupt operations. He introduced his own car, the Chrysler, in 1924 and took over the company the next year. In the late 1970s, it was the federal government - which extended a $1.5 billion loan guarantee to the company - and charismatic CEO Lee Iacocca who pulled the company out of its hole. And in 1998, it was the German industrial behemoth and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler-Benz who changed Chrysler's history for a third time. Daimler-Benz effectively bought Chrysler for $38 billion. With Chrysler manufacturing trucks and moderately-prices cars that sell well in North America, and Daimler-Benz making luxury cars in Europe, the combined company - DaimlerChrysler - has combined revenues of approximately $130 billion.
The company seems to be handling its international prestige quite well. Headquartered in both Stuttgart, Germany and Auburn Hills, Michigan, DaimlerChrysler is owned by European, U.S., and a variety of international investors. In 1998 alone, the company sold 4.3 million passenger cars and commercial vehicles worldwide. With facilities in dozens of countries, the company totes an impressive employee list: 442,000 by a 1998 count. More than just a car manufacturer, DaimlerChrysler also manufactures DaimlerChrysler trucks, helicopters, satellites, aircraft, and railway transportation. The company's more popular brands currently include Smart, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Plymouth.
Back in the day
During the 1980s, then-independent Chrysler introduced the minivan. Shortly thereafter, a sports utility vehicle fad played a positive role in the company's revenues. Jeep Wrangler and Cherokee became notches in Chrysler's belt. Meanwhile, the introduction of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, a vehicle that combines all-terrain pragmatism with luxury car style, pumped up profits. It also set the industry standard for the 1990s.
Break on through
Today, DaimlerChrysler continues to eye the international front, and in particular, huge emerging markets like China and India. It is also working on new technological breakthroughs, such as vehicles with standard Internet connections and environmentally friendly cars running on alternative fuels. In June 2000, due in part to pressure from the Canadian Auto Workers Union, the company invested $1 billion in its assembly plant in Windsor, Ont., to make what sources say will be the firm's first full-size sport utility vehicle. The investment marks the company's largest ever one-time investment in Canada. The move comes at a time when the CAW was pushing the company to take action to counter the rumors that the plant was shutting down due to decreased consumer interest in the vans and wagons that the plant manufactures.
The company took a giant step forward on the labor relations front when, in June 2000, it announced that it would offer full medical, dental and prescription drug benefits for same-sex partners of their hourly and salaried employees. The expanded coverage will be available starting August 1, 2000.
Swing a soft hatchet
With stiff competition in the U.S. market, Daimler Chrysler plans to cut costs worldwide and increase competition. Since fall 1999, the company has trimmed 10 percent of its $45 billion give-year capital-spending plan. The company currently lags in sales of minivans, its biggest-volume product, as buyers opt for rival models.
DaimlerChrysler seeks candidates for the following areas: Financial, Corporate Communications, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology Management, International Operations, Manufacturing, Procurement and Supply, Product Development, Public Relations, Sales and Marketing, and Washington/Government Affairs. More information on the application procedure is available on the career section of company's Web site or www3.daimlerchrysler.com/index_e.htm.
This is not your grandpa's company, say informants. The assembly-line culture is over. "Keep four things in mind: teamwork, innovation, risk-taking, and leadership," says one insider. DaimlerChrysler wants people who can function and thrive within its team-oriented culture, but the company still encourages initiative. "It is standard practice in most areas to allow employees to take on as much responsibility as they can handle," one insider opines. "As an organization, we run leaner on manpower than the other auto manufacturers, so it is very important to hire people who can work well without a lot of supervision," states another.
"The company does most of its direct hiring from college;" and the process is no cakewalk. On its campus visits the Chrysler side of the company typically sends a two-person recruiting team to gather 100+ resumes. From those, the pile is whittled down to "the eight or ten best." Candidates who are lucky enough to interview claim that "the process is rigorous." An insider elaborates, "You have one day in which you will be interviewing with six or seven managers and executive engineers. Each of these interviews can last up to 60 minutes."
Allies and alloys
DaimlerChrysler employees receive the "wealth of opportunities" available at a large corporation without having to sacrifice their individuality. The company "is based on the concept of steady improvement" and reinforces that with its emphasis on education, requiring employees to take extensive training on company time. Employees also enjoy the communal atmosphere of the corporation. "DaimlerChrysler has all the resources of any large multinational corporation, but often feels like a small company," says one amiable insider.
Diversity has long been one of the company's strengths. And with the recent merger, "walking through the halls" feels more and more like "a trip to the United Nations." There is diversity across gender lines as well. "In fact, most of the higher-ups in the Information Systems department are women," confides a source. Judges another, "If you're sharp, and have your shit together, you will do well, no matter what your race or creed." To fit in at the company, however, there is one requirement: "You should love cars."
Money, that's what I want
Insiders at the company formerly called Chrysler boast, "we have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in corporate America." That "the company pays extremely well and its benefits are second to none" is another reason for employee loyalty.
Cars; Trucks;Commercial vehicles; Helicopters; Satellites; Aircraft; Railway transportation
Ford; General Motors; Toyota; Honda
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