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The Lightning Rod Who Shocked Detroit Leaving Job

Steve Miller, the CEO of bankrupt parts maker Delphi is stepping down as chief executive and leaving a position he used to force huge changes on the auto industry.

Here in Detroit, there will no doubt be plenty of rank and file workers cheering Miller's departure. After all, he is the man who said point blank, "many of you will lose your jobs, and others will likely have their pay cut". Tough medicine no doubt.

But it's medicine Delphi employees and the entire auto industry needed to hear.

Steve Miller was brought in in late '05 to salvage an automaker straddled with costs that were way higher than other parts makers. Bankruptcy was the only way to lower those costs. Under Miller, Delphi is closer to bringing those costs down (a deal with GM and the UAW still needs to be finalized), thousands of workers are leaving the company with buyouts worked out with General Motors, and Delphi is better positioned to leverage it's strengths in electronics and value added parts.

But Miller also changed the tenor of business in the auto industry. His straight talk about wages and benefits being too high, let investors know that the auto parts industry needs to be leaner, more cost competitive. And to be sure, the industry is a long ways from where it needs to be. But at least it's heading that way, and for that, investors can credit Steve Miller

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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