Days after Chrysler parent Stellantis was dinged in a report on supplier relations in North Americathe automaker has announced a change in leadership.
Marlo Vitous has been named senior vice president of purchasing and supply chain for North America for the automaker, effective June 1; Martin Horneck, who was head of purchasing and supply chain since March 2020 when he joined the company, “has announced his decision to retire,” according to a Stellantis news release.
Vitous, who was most recently vice president of supply chain management, got her start with the company in June 1998, before it became Stellantis. Her LinkedIn profile for her lists her position for her then as manufacturing supervisor at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. The company noted that she’s held positions of increasing responsibility in both supply chain and purchasing since then.
In her new role, Vitous will be responsible for supporting the company’s Dare Forward 2030 business plan and delivering on the company’s electrification and software commitments through “reliable and efficient sourcing,” the release said.
“Marlo brings extensive experience to this position and has played a key role for the company during the global chip shortage,” Mark Stewart, chief operating officer for Stellantis North America, said in the release. “We look forward to her continued leadership in her new role in supporting our transformation to a customer focused, tech mobility company.”
Stewart thanked Horneck for “his leadership and contributions especially during COVID and the global microchip shortage.”
In November at a union hall in Taylor, Vitous told those at a roundtable event on the chip shortage, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, about the challenges that automakers were facing.
Vitous described a 24/7 effort trying to ensure adequate chip supplies to meet vehicle production demands, with calls daily, nightly and on weekends.
“We look at things both short term and both long term,” she said then. “Short term it is grit. It is pure grit right now to fight for the parts that we need and for our employees.”
Vitous’ promotion comes at a challenging time for the automaker.
Stellantis had the lowest score of six major automakers in North America in a closely watched supplier survey. The automaker, which also owns the Jeep, Ram, Dodge, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, saw the steepest drop in its ranking compared to Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Ford and Nissan from the prior year in Plante Moran’s 22nd annual North American Automotive OEM-Supplier Working Relations Index Study released Monday.
An expert attributed some of the issues to the melding of two formerly separate organizations — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot maker PSA Group — into Stellantis following last year’s merger at a time when the supply chain was already stressed because of global industrywide issues, such as the chip shortage.
But suppliers had also been incensed by a change in the terms and conditions for the automaker’s purchasing organization in North America that the company implemented and then recently rescinded following pushback.
Maintaining good relations with suppliers is important for the bottom line, according to Dave Andrea, principal in Plante Moran’s Strategy and Automotive and Consulting Practice.
“If you’re adding friction to the value chain of where you get 60-70% of the value … I would contend you’re not going to have long-term profitability,” he said in connection with the release of the working relations index study.
Stellantis also recently announced a change to its global supply chain leadership, naming Maxime Picat, currently chief operating officer for the automaker’s European operations and a member of its top executive team, as chief purchasing and supply chain officer, effective June 1. Picat replaces Michelle Wen, “who will pursue personal projects,” according to the company.