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IMM's 10th Anniversary series: Q&A: Jerry L. Mosingo, Collins & Aikman

April 1, 2003

9 Min Read
IMM's 10th Anniversary series: Q&A: Jerry L. Mosingo, Collins & Aikman

imm_10th_anniv_logo50x50tra.gifThe number one man at the number one Tier One molder in the country has a passion for the business. A 30-year industry vet with hands-on manufacturing experience, Jerry L. Mosingo, 52, was appointed president and CEO and a member of C&€™s board of directors last August. He previously served as executive VP of the company’s largest single operating unit, Plastic Components & Cockpits, and held senior operational management positions within Textron Automotive Co.’s Trim Div. prior to its acquisition by C&A, including executive VP of manufacturing and senior VP of operations. Mosingo joins us in celebrating IMM’s 10th anniversary with a candid review of what’s happened in auto molding from his perspective, and an optimistic preview of what’s to come from number one.

IMM: How’s business?
Mosingo: It’s up! In every perspective of our business, it’s up, largely due to the acquisition. We have made good strides into all of the transplants. We’re a $4 billion corporation [$3.8 billion, actually, but who’s counting] with 25,000 employees, 900 injection molding machines, and 120 facilities in 15 countries in North and South America and in Europe—that’s 14,356,000 sq ft of combined total manufacturing floor space.

We have 100 percent penetration of the top 10 light vehicles, trucks, SUVs, and vans sold in North America; 90 percent penetration of the top 10 light vehicles sold in Europe; and 80 percent of the of the top 10 light vehicles sold in South America. We’re confident that we can grow into a $5 billion corporation by 2006.

IMM: So, the Textron Automotive acquisition was a good move for all?
Mosingo: Absolutely! Textron’s strengths were in trim and cockpit modules. C&A’s strengths are in automotive fabrics, flooring, acoustics, and open roof systems. We’ve become the kind of one-stop shop OEMs want. Pricing? Well, that’s just part of the business . . . something everyone has to live with. But systems sourcing—that’s the key.

IMM: It’s generally agreed that the automotive industry has become more demanding of its suppliers—demanding lower prices, higher quality, and so on. How is C&A adapting to those demands?
Mosingo: We are working closely with all of our customers to manage the relationship. The value we provide cannot be measured in dollars alone. Quality, innovation, and timeliness are all factors that weigh into the equation. However, our focus remains the same—providing the best products on the road today.

IMM: Looking back on the last five years, what would you say are the three biggest changes in the automotive supply chain?
Mosingo: The number one change is the role of Tier One suppliers managing their supply base. Number two is the increasing responsibilities we all have to bear in product design and engineering. And three is that we suppliers are now developing our products beyond the expertise of the OEMs.

IMM: How are you coping?
Mosingo:: We’ve developed a number of proprietary systems and software solutions to help. There is, for example, Biceps software—that stands for Best-in-class engineering system. It works though our intranet. We also have Intelliquence. It’s proprietary software for customer sequencing of jobs that takes a product right through to bar coding and JIT delivery. A single cockpit can have 6000 different variations in it!

We’re also making a few major changes in other areas to improve our value stream. We’re putting the finishing touches on standardized specifications for every tool built in the company. It will be posted on our intranet, like Biceps. We bought a moldmaker in Sterling Heights, MI, now called Premier Mold, that will manage every one of the thousands of active tools we use worldwide, making sure they fit our standards program.

Collins & Aikman’s Port Huron, MI facility was one of two C&A plants to win Industry Week magazine’s “Top 10 Plants” award in 2001. Three C&A plants won in 2002.

Our real-time, closed loop Intellimold process control system allows us to standardize our tooling because of the simplification it provides. By monitoring the internal melt pressure of the material, processing from the material’s point of view, you can eliminate a number of complicated mold actions. That makes it much easier to standardize on tooling.

IMM: We’ve written a number of articles on Intellimold—even back when it was called Gas Counter-Pressure, before Textron acquired the system [May 2000 IMM]. Is C&A standardizing on Intellimold?
Mosingo: We are standardizing on Intellimold and a number of other manufacturing systems, like magnetic QMC. Generally speaking, standardization is key to our business plan.

We’ve installed about 200 Intellimold systems on our presses so far and we expect to install more than 100 more this year. Folks on the floor tell me we need to install more parts removal robots—they can’t keep up, because the cycle times are so fast on the Intellimold machines.

Milko Guergov, Intellimold’s inventor, has been promoted. He’ll now lead our material development activities.

IMM: C&A is developing its own molding materials?
Mosingo: That’s right. From what we’ve learned from our Intellimold R&D, Milko may come to me and say something like, “You don’t need a TPO for that part—here’s a better material, a TPX, or a TPO with regrind.”

IMM: How would you say C&A has changed the most—aside from the acquisition? How is C&A evolving?
Mosingo:: It’s impossible to ignore the acquisitions and divestitures. We are nearly 100 percent automotive—our sense of urgency and responsiveness had increased significantly and our focus on implementing our world-class systems is stronger than ever before. We continue to see the benefits of lean manufacturing.And I see C&A evolving into an automotive powerhouse—all the pieces are already there.

IMM: Where and how do you see C&A expanding in the next five years? Will the company stay its current course, or are there other markets and opportunities that are being developed?
Mosingo: We will continue to explore nonautomotive business, if it makes sense. We look to grow with our customers and offer them the best products on the road.

IMM: Your skyscraper here in Troy is pretty cool. Is this a new building?
Mosingo: I think it’s about two years old. We just moved in last April. You know, we have entire floors of our global HQ and customer service center here in Troy exclusively dedicated to specific customers or technologies. One for DaimlerChrysler, one for GM, one for plastics, one for fabrics, one for convertibles, and so on. They like that.

IMM: The main lobby looks a little bare, though.
Mosingo: It won’t be much longer. We plan to hang our value stream maps* in the main lobby for one thing, as we’ll do in every one of our facilities. All of our plants are on a lean journey. Our molding plant in Rantoul, IL—the one IMM did a story on a couple of years ago [October 2000 IMM, pp. 118-122]—had more than 100 inventory turns in 2002.

IMM: Rantoul’s still doing well then?
Mosingo: Along with our plants in Americus, GA and Athens, TN, Rantoul was one of the top 10 plants named by Industry Week magazine in 2002. Three of the top 10 plants in the country were ours! We had two of their top 10 awards in 2001. After our performance last year, the IW editors called to tell me they decided that they were no longer going to give out more than two awards to any single company. They said it wouldn’t be fair.

IMM: C&A is a large organization, but it’s not immune to changes in the manufacturing community. How has C&A been affected by the recent shift in manufacturing jobs from North America to Asia?
Mosingo: For the most part, we are not affected by this trend, as we supply all OEMs globally, and our customers rely on us for our close proximity to their manufacturing locations.

IMM: You have facilities all over the world, but, except for Japan, you have none in Asia. Is C&A planning to expand its Asian presence? If so, what are the primary drivers motivating this expansion?
Mosingo: The motivating factor would be to capitalize on this untapped market. As NAFTA suppliers, it has been an extremely difficult piece of real estate for us to penetrate. The supply base that has penetrated into the Asian market has done so with joint ventures or acquisitions. We continue to look for the right opportunity to expand our business relationships, but we will act only if the solution is financially viable to all parties.

IMM: But these days it’s China, China, China . . . all you hear about is China.
Mosingo: We’re looking at developing a China strategy. There may be opportunity there—there may not be. We’re approaching it on a case-by-case basis; we’ll look at it from a strictly business point of view.

IMM: What worries you?
Mosingo: The only thing that would worry me is not being able to fully tap into the resources we have today within the company. As CEO my job is to see that we have fully integrated the acquisitions that we have made and to help our employees reach their potential to act as one company.

We used to outsource the lower carpet for a plastic door panel, for instance. Now it’s our carpet. We all have something to offer. I have to encourage this cross-pollination and sharing of ideas.

IMM: Are you meeting with any resistance?
Mosingo: None. Our people want this to be one company. For example, before I came on board the company never had a vision statement. I sent out a memo to everyone, asking for their input, and received hundreds of responses. Our new vision statement came from our people, not from me.

I refuse to let office politics rule this company. I’ve got two basic management rules. Number one is that when we are in a room and agree on something, we will still agree on it when we leave the room. Number two is that we all treat each other and treat other people with respect.

No suggestions are ever just filed away. I make it my business to let our HQ corporate executives know who’s really making the money, namely, all of our employees. We’re all in this together and we all want to be the best.

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