Top Chrysler PR Executive Bails Out

By Brendan Moore

12.11.2007

All the people from Home Depot can now say, “I told you so”.

When Robert Nardelli was hired on as CEO of Chrysler, people from Home Depot pointed to the fact that senior managers at Home Depot quit in droves during Nardelli’s tenure at Home Depot, and said it was only a matter of time before that history would repeat itself at Chrysler LLC.

Jason Vines, the VP of Communications, and a direct report to Nardelli, submitted his resignation Friday, a mere four months after Nardelli moved into his office at Chrysler.

Sources say that that the 47 year-old Mr. Vines’ open style of media relations was in direct contrast to the vision Nardelli and Ceberus had regarding public-relations strategy, and was the source of some considerable friction between the two men.

Mr. Vines pushed hard for more open communications to the press concerning Chrysler’s turnaround efforts. Mr. Nardelli not only was against this, he followed Cerberus’ instructions in hiring an outside PR consulting company to take charge of Chrysler media relations. The firm, Robert Marston and Associates, worked with Mr. Nardelli while he was previously CEO of Home Depot.

Chrysler stated that the corporate communications staff would now report to, strangely enough, the head of human resources at Chrysler. David Barnas, a six-year Chrysler employee, will manage all internal and external communications for Chrysler LLC.

One senior executive leaving does not a trend make, despite whatever dire warnings Nardelli’s former managers uttered when Nardelli took over the top job at Chrysler, but it’s probably not a positive short-term sign, at the very least. Jason Vines was liked and respected in the industry and it was obvious to anyone that dealt with him that he loved his job and loved Chrysler.

But, these sorts of things happen at all companies when you get a new CEO, so who’s to say if it means anything at all in the grand scheme of things. If Cerberus and Chrysler pull off the revitalization of Chrysler, this will be merely a minor footnote in the story told in the future about the great comeback of Chrysler.

And we will all just have to wait a little longer to see how that story ends.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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1 Comment

  1. One interesting thing I hadn’t previously known about Jason Vines is that he used to be a stand up comedian. Interesting stuff!

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