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Published: Tuesday, 8/28/2007

Jeep is first on Chrysler CEO's tour of factories

Forgoing factories closer to company headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., Chrysler LLC's new top executive, Bob Nardelli, made Toledo his first stop among company manufacturing plants.

Mr. Nardelli, who took the helm of Chrysler this month, was at the Toledo Jeep Assembly complex for more than three hours yesterday, talking with employees who make the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty and Dodge Nitro.

He was accompanied by Tom LaSorda, president of Chrysler, who formerly was chief executive.

"This was the first manufacturing site. I am sure that there will be more," said company spokesman Michelle Tinson. "He has an interest in getting to know operations and meeting with employees."

She didn't know why he elected to leapfrog over other plants to come to Toledo.

The former chief executive officer of Home Depot, Mr. Nardelli has been meeting with company vice presidents at their offices in Auburn Hills and going to all Chrysler departments.

The local visit included private discussions with Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12.

"We had a very healthy dialogue. It was a very positive plant tour," Mr. Baumhower said. "They were very impressed with the work force and with the pride that our workers have in the products they make.

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