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Jerry York, Once Key Figure at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, Dead at 71

Helped stage failed bids to control Chrysler, GM.

by on Mar.18, 2010

In his long career, Jerry York worked for all three Detroit makers and eventually challenged management at each of them.

Ask those who know Jerry York what they thought of him and you’d heard a mix of descriptions: brilliant strategist, gadfly, great ally, dangerous enemy, and a voice for change in a long-stagnant auto industry.

The truth about Jerome B. York, who died Thursday at 71, is likely a bit of all the above.

At the time of his death, from a brain aneurysm, York was serving as CEO of Harwinton Capital, an investment firm, and, since 1997, as a director for Apple Inc., the successful producer of iPods, iPhones and Mac computers.  But it was in the auto industry that York was best known, and where his legacy will likely be most debated.

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Born in Memphis, the bookish-looking York maintained a soft and subtle twang to his speech long after he moved to Michigan.  He was trained as an engineer, receiving degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, MIT, and the University of Michigan.  But in an industry long divided between “car guys” and “bean counters,” it was on the finance side that he earned his notoriety.


Former Chrysler Chief Financial Officer Blasts Daimler, Says Chrysler Will Survive

Jerry York predicts a Chrysler recovery.

by on Jun.11, 2009

Jerome B. York

"Daimler did a god awful job."

Despite all the doubts about it long-term viability, Chrysler can survive but they’re going to have to recover from mismanagement at the hands of former partners at Daimler AG according to Chrysler’s former Chief Financial  Officer.

“I think they” can survive,” Jerome York said, after an appearance at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “If you believe some of the things they’ve said about breaking even at a relatively low level of sales, and if you believe at some point we’re going to have an (economic) recovery,” then York thinks Chrysler Group will make it.

The U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy this week by declining to hear an appeal by disgruntled creditors, dealers and contingency fee product liability lawyers.

York also said the Italian carmaker Fiat would do a better job of managing Chrysler than Daimler. “I sure hope so because Daimler did a god awful job,” he said. “Daimler should be shot, figuratively speaking of course, for what it did. They left this company in a mess.”

York also called the styling “deplorably bad with a few exceptions; The Jeep brand has only two real Jeeps, the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler and the rest are badge engineered Dodges.” He said, “You can’t treat a brand like that and not do some fatal damage to it.”  (more…)