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Posted on Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

Ann Arbor's Rick Snyder talks about Gateway outsourcing and bid for governor

By Staff

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Snyder did his best Friday to deal with questions on whether he sent jobs to China during his days with computer maker Gateway Inc.

During the taping of the public television show "Off the Record," Snyder said the outsourcing occurred when he was a board member and that he brought some of those jobs back while he served as the company's acting CEO.

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Rick Snyder

"When I was managing the company, we did not outsource jobs to China," the Ann Arbor venture capitalist said.

Snyder is one of five Republicans running for the chance to replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The candidates are all focused on lowering Michigan's 14.6 percent unemployment rate, the nation's highest. But Snyder says he's the only one who has proven himself able to create jobs and bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the state.

Michigan Democratic Chairman Mark Brewer has dismissed Snyder's claim, saying in a statement that "all Rick Snyder did as a private sector CEO was send American jobs to China."

Brewer successfully used a similar attack against Amway heir Dick DeVos when the Ada businessman ran unsuccessfully against Granholm four years ago. The Democratic Party said DeVos, while company president, was responsible for eliminating about 1,400 jobs from the Ada headquarters of Amway's parent company, Alticor Inc., while building a factory and adding jobs in China.

The DeVos campaign said only 600 people were laid off, while the rest took early retirement or were cut through attrition.

Granholm easily won re-election, despite DeVos pouring more than $35 million of his own money into the state's most expensive campaign.

Snyder's campaign is fighting the Democratic charges against him with a three-page handout, "Setting the Record Straight on Rick Snyder's Record at Gateway."

The handout says Snyder joined the fledgling computer maker as executive vice president in 1991, when it had fewer than 800 employees. He was promoted to president and chief operating officer in 1996, then left to start his own venture capital company in 1997. At that time, Gateway — then based in North Sioux City, S.D. — had 13,300 employees, including 10,600 in the U.S.

Gateway significantly cut back on its work force in the following years, according to Snyder's handout. The company moved a "substantial portion" of its manufacturing operations to Mexico and countries in eastern Europe and Asia, including China, according to company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Through that period, Snyder remained on the Gateway board. He said Friday that he has no memory of any vote being taken on outsourcing while he was on the board of the company, now a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Acer Inc. He added that no minutes of those meetings exist.

Snyder said he reversed some of that outsourcing when he returned to Gateway for seven months in February 2006 as interim chief executive officer.

"They asked me to come back to help rescue the company," he said. "And when I came back as interim CEO, I brought jobs back to the U.S."

Michael Tyler, who worked as Gateway's chief legal and administrative officer from 2004 to 2007, said Friday that the board wasn't involved in decisions on moving jobs abroad.

"Decisions on outsourcing were made at the managerial level," said Tyler, now working in London as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Sanmina-SCI, an electronics contract manufacturer.

"To my recollection, these decisions did not rise to the level of the board," he added. "Rick Snyder was someone who brought jobs back to the United States when he was in management."

Brewer said Snyder still has to take responsibility for the job loss.

"It's something that the board could have stopped or reversed if it chose to," he said. "We're content to let the voters of Michigan decide who was responsible for sending those American jobs to China."



Tue, Feb 23, 2010 : 1:55 p.m.

Is it smear tactics to point out what should be obvious? Gateway computers, along with most electronics, are manufactured outside of the United States. Do we need another Republican BUSINESSMAN or do we need a Manufacturing Policy in this country that encourages manufacturing jobs for American workers? Good paying manufacturing jobs are what built this Country and this State and is the only way to fix our economy! As one college puts it "Live, Breathe, Business". Until we learn it's full employment at a living wage and not the mad drive to maximize profits we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.

The Grinch

Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

OK, now I understand. Snyder wasn't the CEO, he was just on the board WHOSE ONLY PURPOSE is to provide direction and oversight of company's executives, and therefore it was not his fault that the CEO performed as he did. Not an argument I'd want to make were I Rick Snyder, but you go ahead and make it for him. I'm certain he'll appreciate it. And no has Republican ever lied, have they?


Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 11:07 a.m.

@Grinch: The point is that that Democrat hack is claiming that the outsourcing happened when Synder was CEO, when he was in command, when it actually happened when he was on the board, where he had far more modest influence. Public company boards are usually little more than rubber stamps for management. Given that he brought jobs back when he was made acting CEO in 2006 it's safe to say that he opposed outsourcing as a board member but had the minority opinion. Not that Democrat hacks like Brewer care about such details. They'll repeat the lie until the masses think it's truth.

The Grinch

Mon, Feb 22, 2010 : 10:11 a.m.

So the outsourcing happened while he was on Gateway's board? And your point is...?


Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 10:13 p.m.

@Grinch: Snyder was Gateway's VP and then CEO from 1991-1997, after which he moved on to running his venture capital companies but was on Gateway's board. So, he has about two decades of executive experience and highly successful experience at that. The outsourcing and general decline of Gateway happened after Snyder left. They brought him back in 2006 to help clean up the mess. Wikipedia has the timeline: Democrat Brewer deliberately misleads voters by saying that the trouble at Gateway happened while Snyder was CEO, and as you've now discovered that's a very effective tactic for amoral political hacks to employ.

The Grinch

Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 8:11 p.m.

V: You perhaps misunderstand my post. I think Mr. Snyder is an interesting candidate. I just find entertaining the illogical posts above.

The Grinch

Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 9:44 a.m.

"Public company board members have very little power." If this is true would it therefore be fair to conclude that Snyder's touting of his "business experience" is a cynical ploy to take advantage of public ignorance? Can't have it both ways. He either played an important role in the companies and their decisions, or he did not. Which is it? Or does he (and do his supporters) simply take ownership of the good things that happened and blame the rest on someone else?


Sun, Feb 21, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

Public company board members have very little power. Democrat Brewer is making the cynical bet that the average Michigan voter is too ignorant to know this, just as he made the cynical bet that voters wouldn't know that DeVos added Amway employees in China to sell to people IN CHINA. How many independent voters today wish that they hadn't listened to his propaganda? Then again, maybe Brewer and his fellow Democrat politicians DON'T understand any of this. It would explain a lot. You can watch Snyder's interview at You can get Snyder's detailed plans for Michigan government at

The Grinch

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 6:43 p.m.

Funny how the very same people who call our president a Nazi and a Socialist (obviously ignorant of the fact that it's not possible to be both) consider it a "smear" to report the facts about a gubenatorial candidate they like. Whether or not any of these facts are important is for the voter to decide (hopefully without the blinders so apparent in many of these posts). But reporting facts can hardly be a smear. Me thinks thou doth protest too much.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

The middle class fire sale is over now. The leadership that fueled the sale is about to sail. How about talking about some new ideas, dispensing with the rhetoric and mudslinging? At least Snyder has some ideas with new approach. The old approach has Michigan in the bottom five states.

Tom Joad

Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 4:33 p.m.

Rick Snyder is no friend to the middle class or American workers. He's part of the corporate elite who have traded American jobs for obscene profits, gains they use to infiltrate every level of government including the Congress, Executive, nay, even the Supreme Court with their favorable ruling giving big corporations an unlimited hand at electing people like Rick Synder who will advance corporate interests here in Michigan. It's a farce that these people claim to have created jobs or will create them in the future. Michigan is in the depths of a moribund economy. The people that have sold out the middle class do not deserve to be in positions of political leadership.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 3:49 p.m.

Since 2000, Michigan has lost over 800,000 jobs. Michigan never recovered from the recession a decade ago. Michigan's high unemployment rate doubled since 2006. Michigan is devastated by its recent status quo leadership. We need someone with a plan.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

Let's see 12,500 new jobs, 9800 in the US and 2700 in China. That's over 3 to 1 in the US during Rick's tenure. Look inside your average PC and there is VERY little assembled in the US. Mr. Snyder should be congratulated for keeping the US staffing ratio so high!!! In light of PC industry norms Brewer's comments are misleading at best, and to me a serious distortion of the situation.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

I agree with 1bit, smear tactics just make the person smearing look weak. Outsourcing of jobs is not unusual. Those of you who can remember the 70s/80s should know one of the biggest issues was inflation. Importing goods from other countries solved the issues somewhat because quite frankly if goods are made in the US, the price tag goes way up. Americans need/want higher pay and benefits. I don't like this, I do not like to see high unemployment and see Made in Anywhere Except the USA labels on almost everything. What I want to hear is how we are going to get Michigan back to work. Mr Snyder gives us a commercial that reminds me of Pres Obama's famous use of the word change, adding that he is a "nerd." Who cares? Give us some HOW and WHY. How are you going to do this and why it will work. Be clear and make sense. Not just you are an entrepreneur. I do not want another candidate promising "what" we want to hear without telling us "how" it can be accomplished. Under the present governor, we see factories built in other states where workers rebuff the unions (VW 6000 jobs) Until we can break the union influence, why would a business open a manufacturing business in Michigan. We need to make some tough changes in Michigan an until we have the guts to do so, we will not see improvement.


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

How many Michigan jobs went to China during Granholm's tenure? The number is staggering... aren't we blown away?


Sat, Feb 20, 2010 : 11:11 a.m.

He not only outsourced (taking jobs from his own organization and employees), he off-shored, which involves exporting the jobs to other countries, then selling the products they produce back to Americans. Executives like Snyder have been educated by business schools like Harvard (and Michigan) to believe that the interests of their customers, their employees, and the society which feeds and enables them are secondary to the purely financial interests of their stockholders. If it is good for the stockholders' ROI--do it! And sc---w everyone else! Look at Toyota--this was a great company until it drank the "investors come first" Koolaid that Snyder drank. As soon as they did, they started to fail their customers and their society. This is the Snyder/Biz School/Corporate ethos. "Let 'em eat cake!" His "I'm for jobs in Michigan" road to Damascus-like revelation only came when he decided to run. Koolaid, anyone?