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Q&A with Bob Remenar, President & CEO of Nexteer

July 28, 2011

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Q&A with Bob Remenar, President & CEO of Nexteer

How does the story of Nexteer Automotive define the Access Effect?
The continued growth and success of Nexteer is a testament to the Access Effect. Michigan was an attractive state for foreign investors, most recently with an emphasis on Chinese investors, given the vast amount of technology and talent available in the area. In fact, Michigan has a higher concentration of engineers than any other state in the country, more college students per capita than California, and ranks in the top 10 nationally for new patents per year. Not only that, but Detroit provides access literally in a way other cities can’t—with an airport that has non-stop flights to China. That type of access—from both a physical and intellectual level—is what contributed to the sale of Nexteer to Pacific Century Motors late last year. We continue to exemplify the Access Effect in all that we do now, from manufacturing to R&D to sales and marketing.

What was the key turning point for Nexteer Automotive?
Without a question it was the sale to Pacific Century Motors because they didn’t just buy Nexteer; they also bought the talents and skills of our people. Through investment, our new ownership has allowed us to innovate and grow globally,  in both mature and emerging markets. This means new equipment, facilities, new hires, new customers, and new products. There is a huge growth opportunity for electronic powered steering (EPS) in Asia Pacific, South America and other regions. Our investment in global expansions will put us on the leading edge of that growth.

How does Nexteer’s success impact the local community it operates in?
It’s safe to say that Nexteer is a crucial part of the Great Lakes Bay Region. A vast majority of Nexteer’s 3,800 US employees live in this region. Our manufacturing facilities and engineering hub affects the entire region’s infrastructure—from schools to roads to shopping districts. Nexteer employees are very passionate about supporting their communities, local charities and businesses and understand what a vital role the success and growth of Nexteer means to this region.

What is your advice for companies expanding their supply chains globally?
Expanding globally is certainly an exciting thing, but it comes with its challenges. I cannot over-state the importance of personal relationships and communication as we bridge East with West to operate efficiently in multiple regions.  The trust that can only result from relationships and consistent personal behavior built on a foundation of trust and integrity  is priceless. Adjusting to different time zones, cultures, and work styles are all things that take time. The best way to adapt to this new set of expectations and responsibilities is to communicate often and clearly with your global partners. At the end of the day, we are all there to make the best possible product for the customer. Still, paying attention to costs, inventory, and order fulfillment time are the prime things to consider as you’re expanding a supply chain globally. This helps maintain a high-level of quality while keeping the business financially strong.

What are some trends you see in the global auto parts industry?
We’re seeing a huge uptick in the demand for electronic powered steering (EPS). Ten years ago, EPS technology only accounted for 4 percent of our revenue; this year it will be over 30 percent and is expected to double over the next four years as the industry around the world moves to the more fuel-efficient EPS systems.  To date, Nexteer has produced over 15 million EPS units saving over 1.3 billion gallons of fuel versus conventional hydraulic systems

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