CEO Is Demanding But Fair

January 17, 2003
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HOLLAND — He's demanding, yes. But Carlos Mazzorin says he was also fair in dealing with the companies that supplied Ford Motor Co.

As he settles in as the chief executive of Magna Donnelly Corp., the former head of global purchasing at Ford plans to follow that same style. Companies that supply Magna Donnelly, he said, can expect demands, yet fairness.

"I cannot say that I always succeeded, maybe, but that's what I want," said Mazzorin, who earned a reputation at Ford for aggressively demanding and securing price cuts from automotive suppliers in an era where automakers were looking to their supply chain to generate cost savings.

Those demands come with the turf in a fiercely competitive automotive industry that for years has seen automakers place increasingly higher demands on their suppliers through taking on more responsibility for product research and development, improving quality and reducing cost.

"I really am very demanding, but no more than the industry is of anybody else," Mazzorin said. "From my perspective, I'll always be fair."

A 43-year veteran of the automotive industry, Mazzorin was recruited and hired by Magna Donnelly's corporate parent, Magna International Inc., shortly after his retirement from Ford on Nov. 1.

The world's largest maker of automotive mirrors, as well as a producer of windows, door handles and electronic components, Magna Donnelly finished 2002 with revenues of nearly $1.3 billion. Magna Donnelly employs about 3,200 people in West Michigan.

Nearly one month into his role as chairman and chief executive officer at Magna Donnelly, the 61-year-old Mazzorin says "it's going to be strange" to work on the other side of the industry from automakers, dealing with the kinds of demands he himself once placed on suppliers. His background and experience provides Magna Donnelly with a chief executive who possesses a keen understanding of industry players and dynamics and who knows how to tap the supply base at Ford and other automakers.

"After 43 years, I'm a real insider. I know what it takes," Mazzorin said last week as he and Dwane Baumgardner, the man he replaced and who is now vice chairman, met with reporters.

"When I sit down I know what they expect. I know what's going through their minds and I know the pressures that they have. I know what is happening to the (automakers) in the market and how they have to react with speed," he said. "I like to maintain the customer is king. I'm going to provide solutions and not give them more problems."

A major emphasis for Mazzorin is maintaining Magna Donnelly on the forefront of automotive technology and growing the company's sales and profitability. As with any automotive supplier, improving quality and reducing waste is also paramount for Magna Donnelly, with the two going hand in hand, Mazzorin said.

"Quality is the mother of waste. If you don't touch it, it's waste," Mazzorin said. "You eliminate quality problems, you eliminate cost. You eliminate cost, you give the benefit to your customers."

Mazzorin took over at Magna Donnelly less than three months after Magna International acquired the former Donnelly Corp., a company that he says he knew well and considered a "premier company."

Both he and Baumgardner, the long-time Donnelly Corp. chairman and CEO who is now vice chairman at Magna Donnelly, say the integration into Aurora, Ont.-based Magna International is going quite well.

"During the first 100 days of the merger, I think we've made terrific progress," Baumgardner said.

Baumgardner knew at the time of the acquisition, announced in late June and completed in October, that a management change might occur at what became Magna International's newest business unit, as the auto supplier rolled its mirror division into Donnelly Corp. to form Magna Donnelly.

As vice chairman, a role Magna International has for many of its business units, Baumgardner leaves behind day-to-day management duties to focus on possible strategic alliances, joint ventures and acquisitions from a technical perspective. Baumgardner says the new role plays to his strengths and background as an engineer.

"A good part of my heart is in the technical area and new products and growth. It's something I enjoy very much," he said.

Bringing Mazzorin on board as chairman and CEO strengthens Magna Donnelly's management team, Baumgardner said. He labeled Donnelly Corp's. relationship with Mazzorin when he was at Ford as "more positive than frequently characterized" and views Mazzorin as "a model of executive leadership in the industry."

"This is good for the company overall," Baumgardner said. "We've come a long way (since the acquisition). With Carlos joining us now, we'll be able to power forward even faster for this next phase."

While well respected within the automotive industry for its manufacturing prowess, products and technology, Donnelly Corp. struggled in recent years with profitability, particularly in its European operations. In a Jan. 8 conference call with brokerage analysts offering an outlook for the corporation for 2003, Magna International executives said that Magna Donnelly' gross margin is below the average of the corporation's business units.

Mazzorin spent 30 years at Ford, most recently as vice president for Asia Pacific and South American operations and global purchasing, handling the latter duties for several years. After retiring from Ford, he received several job offers.

He opted for Magna International's offer to head up Magna Donnelly, which represents a combination of two companies that he knew well and respected. He and Baumgardner are also long-time friends.

"This one was attractive, interesting, challenging and, what I thought most important, enjoyable," Mazzorin said. "It just kind of fit my beliefs and what I wanted to do in the years after. The companies, the people and everything else fit."

Mazzorin will work out of Magna Donnelly's sales and marketing office in Livonia. But as a "virtual manager" who was on the road constantly at Ford, he expects to be in Holland often.

Part of what intrigued Mazzorin was the "perfect fit" between Donnelly Corp. and Magna International, which between them had little customer and product overlap. The two corporations could build on each other's strengths and together improve their weaknesses, he said.

Donnelly Corp., for example, has struggled in Europe, while Magna has a "high-performing" European division. In North America, Donnelly outperformed Magna's mirror unit.

"Both companies have pluses and minuses. They were both good at some things and not good at others," Mazzorin said. "We will correct the things that are not good and continue to do the ones that were very good." 

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