The Future of Auto Suppliers

by Jamie Flinchbaugh

For those not paying close attention, billionaire and industry-fixer-upper guy Wilber Ross has been on the prowl for struggling auto supply assets. Ross has gone in to both the textile industry and the steel industry, swept up the ashes, fixed things up and made a mint. He sees the auto supply market as the next big opportunity. Here are his latest comments.

An interesting part of Ross’ turnaround strategy is that he often partners closely with unions and works very closely with front-line employees. Most of job loss comes from the management ranks. He asks people “what’s wrong with this place?” and seems to take action on the outcomes. Quite a different approach than Steve Miller at Delphi, although these are very different situations. Based on Ross’ plans, he may be one of the largest auto suppliers in the world in a few years.

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Jamie Flinchbaugh is a lean advisor, speaker, and author. In addition to co-founding the Lean Learning Center, he has helped build nearly 20 companies as either a co-founder, board member, advisor, or angel investor. These companies range from high-performance motorcycles to SaaS tools for continuous improvement. He has advised over 300 companies around the world in lean transformation, including Intel, Harley-Davidson, Crayola, BMW, and Amazon. Jamie co-authored the popular book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, and continues to share his experiences as a Contributing Editor forIndustryWeek and as a blogger at He holds degrees from Lehigh University, University of Michigan, and MIT, and continues to teach and mentor on campus. Jamie is best known for helping to transform how we think about lean from a tools-centric model to one based on principles and behaviors. His passion for lean transformation comes from seeking to unlock the great potential that people possess to build inspiring organizations.

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  1. Mark Graban says

    That’s great that Ross does that, if he takes a more respectful approach to people.

    I’ve recently discovered a great leader in the healthcare world, Quint Studer. As a hospital CEO, his leadership style was absolutely “lean” although he never called it that.

    His approach was to ask people (nurses, doctors, patients) “what do I need to fix for you?”, the idea of servant leadership.

    Even if you’re not in healthcare, I’d encourage you to check out his website and books (including Hardwiring Excellence) for ideas on leadership.

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