Here in the Detroit area, loyalty to the ‘Big 3' automakers is always a hot topic. At one point, it seemed like just about every family had someone employed by one of the automakers or parts suppliers, or had some other stake in the game. Now, while there are a lot less people directly employed, it can still be a hot topic.
My Grandfather's Loyalty
Recently, my dad told me a story about my grandfather and his loyalty. My grandpa apparently loved Chrysler cars, and had a string of them. Then, he ended up working for Chevrolet during the later half of his working days. Once that happened, although he still favored Chrysler cars, he only bought GM cars thereafter.
As my dad said, he knew that the company provided his salary which put the roof over the head of his family, put food on the table, and everything else. In fact, for him it was so simple that it wasn't really a choice, because that would have implied a potential alternative.
My dad later went on to lament the fact that many people today don't have the same loyalty. He used the example of someone who knew that worked for GM for their his career, and while he drove GM cars during that time, he started buying non-GM cars as soon as he retired. In Big 3 country, that doesn't sit well with some people, as they feel that t even though the direct relationship is over, the money was still originally provided by GM. On the other hand, and while I don't know if it's the mindset of this individual personally, the thought seems to be that, yes, GM paid them during that time, but they also gave their time and service back, and don't feel that furthers the obligation.
Personally, I can see both sides of the argument, and I think it's one of those that has a lot of gray areas.
Questioning My Own Loyalty
I've often considered where my loyalty currently is. For me, it's complex, and I've been able to put it off for 10 years now, but this discussion raised the question in my head.
See, for me, it's GM pretty much all the way at least from my family background. As mentioned, my grandpa worked there, my dad worked there, my father-law-currently works there, and at one point I worked there. So, it should be simple, right?
Well, for my personal experience, my employment wasn't a positive one. I've outlined it before, so I will give the short version: I was hired for a senior level position for which I had no direct experience. They assured me that my experience to date would allow for an easy transition. I was promised that I would be paired with experienced team members and given room to grow by management. When I started, I was assigned to a different group. That manager had no interest in providing the accommodations I mentioned above. I was thrown into several jobs where I was asked to provide leadership to junior level people that honestly, had more experience than I did.
Predictably, it didn't go well, and after nine months, they parted ways with me.
So, it bring the complexity in terms of my loyalty into question.
My Thoughts On Loyalty
- My initial reaction was to say “Screw GM, they didn't want me, why should I want their products?”
- As time has passed, I realized that this was only nine months of my life. I had a great career before this, I landed my next job less than 6 weeks later, and I'm still here…10 years later. So, one could argue, was there really a harm?
- I also looked at it that I was not 100% blameless. I took a risk in taking a job where I didn't have direct experience. You could arguably point a few different fingers, and could at least one be pointed at me? Yeah, probably.
- As mentioned, my family has a much bigger history with GM than my nine months that continues on as my dad still gets a pension check from them, my father-in-law still collects a paycheck. I'm a big believer in the legacy of your family. This is a pretty big component that I'm not sure I'd be comfortable throwing away if it came to it.
I've Been Kicking The Can
Our circumstances have allowed us to basically avoid this issue since everything happened with my brief employment. We have two cars. Both are GM. My car was purchased during my brief employment. The other car we purchased used (from my parents).
So, basically, we haven't been in the market to even address the question for a number of years.
Our cars are getting older so potentially it could come up at some point soon. One of the questions that I've thought about that I really can't come up with an answer is what if we bought used again. At that point, the car company isn't getting any of the money.
But that may be the way out of answering the question. That'd probably just kick the can. I'd expect that at some point in my life, I'd consider buying or leasing a new car, so it's a question that will eventually need to be answered.
If Push Came To Shove
As I wrote this, it occurred to me that I may not have to answer the question today. If I did, with the proverbial gun to my head, I'd probably lean toward sticking with GM. Even just writing this, I've noticed a shift over the years. For the first few years after my brief employment, I probably would have looked anywhere but GM. Then, I softened to where I said that I'd at least keep GM in the mix. Now, as I look back at just how I've run through this, I realized that I've softened further. I think that my answer at this point would be that GM would not be guaranteed my business. But, it would be theirs to lose.
With all things considered, I think that's pretty fair.
Readers, where do you land on loyalty? How about in terms of products or companies that you personally or that your family has worked for?