Leaders praise Marchionne and mourn his death

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
In this Friday, June 1, 2018 file photo, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne speaks during a press conference at the FCA headquarter, in Balocco, Italy. The boards of Fiat Chrysler, Ferrari and CNH Industrial have been called to meet in Italy in light of CEO Sergio Marchionne’s surgery. The three boards were summoned to separate meetings in Turin on Saturday, July 21 amid the prolonged convalescence of Marchionne, who had shoulder surgery three weeks ago in Switzerland.

Following the death of former FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, national and local government officials and industry leaders Wednesday expressed sadness at his passing.

Mary Barra, chairwoman and CEO of General Motors Co., was among them. "We at General Motors offer our condolences to Sergio Marchionne’s family and friends," she said on Twitter. "Sergio created a remarkable legacy in the automotive industry."

Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co., said in a statement, "Sergio Marchionne was one of the most respected leaders in the industry whose creativity and bold determination helped to restore Chrysler to financial health and grow Fiat Chrysler into a profitable global automaker."

United Auto Workers President Gary Jones said, "During the industry’s dark days of the recession, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram were at a perilous point. Working with the UAW members, the FCA rebirth was borne when many doubted it would come."

Wes Lutz, 2018 chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association and president of Extreme Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Jackson, said, "He was a true visionary within our industry. Franchised dealers will always be grateful for his unrelenting drive and incredible focus, which not only helped steer one of the world’s most iconic brands through some pretty dark days, but through foresight helped position that brand for success and growth in a changing market.:

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said in a statement: “He was brilliant, focused, strategic, intense and helped Michigan and the industry I love." 

The FCA flag is flown at half mast in front of the Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant in memoriam of Sergio Marchionne, the former head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, in Detroit on July 25, 2018.

Congressman Sandy Levin, D-Royal Oak, echoed Dingell's sentiments. “Many of us saw first-hand Sergio Marchionne’s vital role in the American auto industry. We had the privilege of working together when it was under siege. His creativity and relentless work ethic were an important part in saving that industry."

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said, “We often joked about how we were just two accountants who started our careers across the Detroit River from each other — Sergio in Windsor and me in Detroit. The many times we met, both in Michigan and overseas, will always provide me with fond memories of this outstanding businessman, leader and friend to all of us in Michigan."

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner and former Congresswoman Candice Miller said, "We worked closely together during the crafting of the auto bridge-loans and Sergio was always focused on doing what was best for Chrysler and its employees. He was directly involved in the conversations to keep the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant not only open, but viable long in to the future, protecting good jobs for American families."

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said Marchionne saved Fiat Chrysler and helped the city of Warren along with it. The company has as a pickup plant and stamping plant in Warren.

"Chrysler is our number 2 taxpayer and without them our city would have been in a difficult situation," he said on his Facebook page "...A great unconventional visionary leader. Sergio was able to restore the greatness of Chrysler that was threatened with extinction after Lee Iacocca left."

Marchionne was United Way campaign cabinet chair in 2012-13 and from 2016 to 2018. Mark Petroff, board chairman of the nonprofit, and Darienne Driver, its president and CEO, issued a statement saying, "We are reminded of something he once said and also exemplified, 'We’ve been put on this earth to do more than just benefit economically from progress. We’ve been put on this earth do something else. And this notion of community, of fellowship, is something absolutely fundamental to who we are. It is an obligation that we’re born with — to help each other.'"


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez