Out of the glare of the public markets, away from the pull of analysts and investors wanting to see immediate improvements in a company's health, management is free to take a harder tack to achieve profitability. Focusing on numbers instead of instant gratification can sometimes allow a business to make the hard decisions necessary to right a foundering ship.

So it could be that the private-equity guys who brought Bob Nardelli on board to help sail the Chrysler ship have chosen the right man for the job -- not that everybody will like the tough decisions he'll make. Plastech Engineered Products, for one, is watching Chrysler take its valued business elsewhere.

At both General Electric (NYSE: GE) and Home Depot (NYSE: HD), Nardelli was famous -- some might say notorious -- for focusing on the numbers to the exclusion of all else. His myopic concentration on numbers when he headed the Big Orange Box led him to institute staffing cuts that pulled employees from the floor. Doing so undermined morale and customer service, and now that's what the folks at Chrysler have to look forward to. In addition to Chrysler's Plastech move, we've discovered just today that the company plans to make significant cutbacks in dealerships and product offerings.

Many of the industry's suppliers are experiencing the dire consequences of falling car sales at fellow U.S. heavies General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Ford (NYSE: F). The automakers have typically assisted the financially strapped suppliers to ensure that they're able to keep supplying parts, much as Ford did a few years ago when it took a bullet for Visteon (NYSE: VC).

But for Plastech, Nardelli's Chrysler refused to drop anchor and help. It idled four plants rather than launch a life raft, and Plastech -- whose parts are also used at Johnson Controls (NYSE: JCI) -- was forced to file for bankruptcy protection.

Cash may be king, as Nardelli has been said to repeat often, but relations with employees and suppliers are important, too. Playing hardball now with Plastech could generate a few dollars for Chrysler's coffers in the short term, but it could sink the ship later on, if other suppliers refuse to extend the best prices and terms to the automaker. And a sunk reputation is something Home Depot is all too familiar with.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey owns shares of Ford but has no financial position in any of the other stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.