GM's Kevin Williams talks abut future of automaker

Ask General Motors’ Kevin Williams, North American VP and general manager, Service and Parts Operations, about the future of the automaker — and one thing seems to ring pretty clear.           

The multicultural market will play an important role in GM’s operations.

“We are in the process of restructuring how we do business across the entire process,” said Williams.  “We definitely are focused on the multicultural consumer going forward.  We think it makes great business sense to focus there.

“We understand the dynamics of the changing population in the U.S. particularly but all over the globe and so we prioritized the multicultural customer as among our highest priorities.”

The focus on the multicultural market, said Williams, is part of GM’s overall strategy to be more customer-oriented, as the “New GM” after emerging from bankruptcy last month.  

“We didn’t always put the customer –very honestly– at the center of everything that we did,” he said. “In some cases we thought we had better answers than the customers themselves.

“Everything that we do in the future will be focused on a set of cultural values that allows us to be more nimble, to be faster, to take more risk in our process but the right kind of risk in the process.  But more than anything to become more customer-focused and that’s what you’re going to hear a lot about in the new General Motors.”

As GM’s North America vice president and general manager, Service and Parts Operations, Williams also serves as a member of GM’s North America Strategy Board. Additionally, he chairs the Global Aftermarket Advisory Board and operates as global process leader for the after-sales portion of the Global Sales, Service and Marketing function.

Last week, GM invited media to its Technical Center in Warren and Milford Proving Grounds to highlight the company’s future plans while showcasing new vehicles like the Chevy Volt, which GM announced will get 230 miles per gallon city when it goes on sale late next year.  The automaker also unveiled three new Cadillac vehicles, a Buick compact car and the newly redesigned Chevy Malibu and Chevy Aveo as part of its product strategy.

While reluctant to discuss specifics, Williams said GM’s new marketing and sales efforts will involve reworking its relationship with agencies with more focus on the multicultural market.

“We are in the process of looking at how we restructure to better serve those customers and so from an agency perspective,” said Williams, who began his GM career in 1983 as a reliability analyst at Buick City in Flint.

A move by GM in to be more aggressive in capturing the multicultural market could prove to be pivotal to the Detroit-based car maker when it comes to gaining U.S. market share.  Citing a study by the research firm R.L. Polk, Randi Payton, publisher of “African Americans on Wheels,” notes that the multicultural market is expected to account for roughly 25 percent of future U.S. crossover sales, a key vehicle segment for all carmakers.

In his role, Williams is more specifically focused on improving GM’s efforts in areas tied to the customer’s overall experience across GM’s full product line-up, which now includes the brands Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. 


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