An insider exposes the strategic decisions that have caused the foundation of America’s industrial sector to crumble, then lays out a plan for its restoration. The author led GM Chairman John Smale’s Scenario Planning Staff in the mid-1990s and Roger Smith’s development of a Saturn expansion proposal in the late-1980s after a career in GM plant operations designing and managing manufacturing systems.
Thomas A. Crumm is a third-generation autoworker born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His grandfathers and father began their careers with tools in their hands and rose to play important roles in the auto industry. Tom’s career began in the same way. His successes in improving operations and designing manufacturing systems would take him to every corner of GM’s diverse operations. His many successes in the leadership of manufacturing and engineering activities moved him steadily up through the ranks and into roles of increasing responsibility.
Tom’s corporate leadership education came during his six years in Roger Smith’s Corporate Strategic Planning Group (think tank), when he was afforded the opportunity to attend executive programs at Harvard, The Wharton School and then Northwestern. But if asked, he will tell you he is a hands-on industrial engineer.
Tom Crumm was appointed to lead GM Chairman John Smale’s Scenario Planning Staff in the mid-nineties in an attempt to alter the course of General Motors. Tom was also the appointed “visionary” for Roger Smith when he attempted to expand the Saturn experiment across the corporation.
After GM, Tom became a consultant to Adaptive Materials Inc., which develops and produces solid oxide fuel cells for defense applications. He is a former member of the BOD and CEO of Hypercar Inc. joining them as they spun off from the Rocky Mountain Institute to design and build a prototype of a full sized family sedan powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that could achieve the BTU equivalent of 100 mpg. The prototype weighed less than 1800 pounds when development was complete. Its steering, brakes, suspension and all other controls were achieved using lightweight electronics. The structural body panels were made of carbon fiber.
The lessons learned from these two attempts together with Tom’s experience in raising funding and pulling together a proposal for how to put Hypercars into production, and his recent attempt to launch a consortium of companies to build vehicles for federal fleets, all serve to support the conclusions and recommendations in the book.