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GM’s Latest Shake-Up Nets Buick’s Richards, Chevy’s Dewar

by on Dec.10, 2009

Former Ford veteran Michael Richards lasted just 8 days as General Manager of GM's Buick division.

Former Ford veteran Michael Richards lasted just eight days in his post as General Manager of GM's troubled Buick division.

Even in the “new” General Motors, Michael Richards has set a record for short tenure, the Buick boss lasting just eight days before being resigned.

He will be followed out the door by long-time GM executive Brent Dewar, who was ousted this week as general manager of the automaker’s biggest brand, Chevrolet.

The latest management roil reflects the heavy hand of Chairman and Acting CEO Ed Whitacre, Jr., who has made it clear that performance is everything, and those who don’t deliver won’t be around very long.

Richards’ appointment as Buick General Manager was announced just before the division’s news conference during the Los Angeles Auto Show, on Wednesday, December 2nd.  He was something of a surprise appointment, coming to GM from cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. Insiders say Michaels, a 27-year Ford veteran, left, in 2008, after a falling out with that company’s marketing chief Jim Farley.

Apparently, Richards didn’t do much better building relations at General Motors.

“We’re just saying that he is leaving the company,” responded spokesman Tom Wilkinson.

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But a source, speaking on a request of anonymity, noted that Richards “timing wasn’t great.”

The executive was hired by former GM CEO Fritz Henderson, himself ousted last week, and Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.  Until last Friday, Lutz was serving as GM’s marketing chief, but he had that assignment – along with most of his other duties – stripped by Whitacre and given to fast-rising star Susan Docherty, who was overseeing GM’s North American sales operations.  Previously, the Canadian-born Docherty was in charge of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC group.