the automotive industry
toward a new era.
ALAN ABRAMS Special to the Jewish News
arold R. Kutner really thought he'd be
spending his retirement last summer at
his Florida home, enjoying the sun and
Instead, the 61-year-old former
General Motors group vice-president for
worldwide purchasing found himself in the
thick of the automotive supply business,
working with his former employer — and
As GM's chief buyer, Kutner once told the
Jewish News he spent $70 billion a year. He
also averaged 250,000 miles annually travel-
ing around the world to meet with suppliers.
Today, he sits in his office in a Southfield high-rise,
embroiled in the life or death survival struggle of Covisint
LLC, a global automobile supplier exchange.
Kutner wants Covisint to become a household word. He
was pulled out of his retirement in June to succeed Covisint's
first chief executive officer, who resigned after 14 months on
the job. Kutner retired from GM last December. As chairman
and chief executive officer of Covisint, he has risen higher in
the ranks of the automotive industry than any Jew in the
His highest-ranking Jewish predecessors include Gerald
Greenwald, former vice chairman of Chrysler Corp., and
Meyer L. Prentis, who served as treasurer of GM for 32 years.
Kutner maintained his home in Bloomfield Hills, so return-
ing to Detroit wasn't a hardship. "This is time well spent out
of retirement," he said.
If Covisint takes off and becomes the industry standard, it
will revolutionize the auto industry. Covisint's system of apply-
ing the tools of e-commerce and online auctions for all the
automakers could be the most important innovation in the
industry since Henry Ford introduced the moving assembly
line in 1913 at his plant in Highland Park.
"Harold Kutner is a very talented business leader who has