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A tale of two Holden men

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Mark Reuss, GM Holden’s former Australian boss, is having a much better time of it than his successor Mike Devereux.

While Devereux is overseeing the closure of Holden’s Victorian and South Australian operations, Reuss is announcing new investments of nearly $1.3 billion in five manufacturing sites in its USA factories in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

The investments combined will create or retain about 1,000 jobs.

Reuss has also just been named “Auto Executive of the Year” and been promoted to the role of GM’s head of global product development, describing it as a “dream job”.

He spent two years in Australia running the Holden operation and was replaced for a short period by Alan Batey who handed over the reins in 2010 to Devereux.

During Reuss’s time here, he had the job of reassuring the nation that Holden’s future was safe, despite the parent 2009 bankruptcy in the US, from which it has now emerged.

When Reuss left Australia, the then Industry Minister Kim Carr said: “The Australian government regrets Mr Reuss’ departure, and I will personally miss his friendship and wise counsel, but Mr Batey’s appointment will guarantee continuity and ensure that the innovation partnership between Holden and the Commonwealth stays strong.

“Both the company and the government remain squarely focused on creating investment and employment opportunities for Australia.”

When Mike Devereux replaced Batey he was was the fourth boss of Holden in as many years – and he looks to be the last or second last.

The Holden closure announcement now appears to have been a long-planned move that re-sets of the car maker’s global operations.

The new US investments will support production of a new V6 engine, new 10-speed transmission and an existing 6-speed transmission.

They will also fund assembly plant upgrades, including a new paint shop and logistics optimisation center.

Since 2009, GM has announced investments of about $10.1 billion in its U.S. operations – $2.8 billion in 2013 alone – creating or retaining more than 26,500 jobs.

Announcing the investments GM said it was “committed to a strong American manufacturing base and creating jobs in dozens of communities throughout the country”.

“(The) plant upgrades continue the momentum of a resurgent auto industry,” Reuss said.

US Auto Workers union boss Joe Ashton said: “Today’s announcement is a win for American workers.”

For Reuss, the world is his oyster; for Devereux – at least for the moment – and the Holden workers of Australia it’s a vastly different tale.

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