After a two-year stint as a car dealer, former Rockwell Automotive President Ron Roudebush is returning to the parts supply business.
Roudebush, 50, was named chief executive officer and vice chairman of Standard Products Co. in Dearborn, Mich., last week. As CEO, he succeeds James Reid Jr., 71, who will continue as chairman. Reid had been chief executive since 1962. Theodore Zampetis, 51, continues as president and chief operating officer.
For the past two years, Roudebush has been part owner of Milford Dodge in Milford, Ohio. He now is discussing his status in the business with principal owner Kim Sharp. Roudebush may sell his minority stake or remain as an investor in the Cincinnati-area dealership.
In late 1994, Roudebush and three other top executives at Troy, Mich.-based Rockwell Automotive were ousted by parent company Rockwell International Corp. After removing the top management, Rockwell organized the automotive business into two groups: light vehicles and commercial truck components. At the time, insiders said the move was prompted by the parent company's desire to improve operating margins, which were in the range of 4-7 percent.
In March, Rockwell International announced it was spinning off the automotive business into a separate, publicly traded business.
For Roudebush, the announcement confirmed what he had known: Rockwell International would have a rough time achieving the 18-20 percent operating margins in automotive that it was getting in electronics.
``They're now saying publicly the same thing I tried to tell them two years ago,'' Roudebush said. ``The automotive business is good, but it's not a super-high-profitability business.''
In joining Standard Products, Roudebush returns to a parts supply industry that, in his own words, ``is in my blood.'' He spent 21 years at Rockwell Automotive, the last three as president and general manager of what was then a $2.8 billion supplier with most of its business based outside North America.
Roudebush, a graduate of GMI Engineering and Management Institute and Purdue University, began his career at General Motors.
Standard Products makes a variety of plastic and rubber automotive products for sealing, trim and vibration control applications. These products include encapsulated windows, weatherstripping, windshield moldings, motor mounts and exterior body side moldings.
The firm ranked fifth in Plastics News' recent ranking of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders with plastic profile sales of $296 million. It also reported North American injection molding-related sales of about $21 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1996.
Through its 1997 fiscal third quarter, ended March 31, Standard Products reported profit of $8.2 million on sales of $814 million. In the fiscal year ended June 30, 1996, the company reported profit of $14.5 million on sales of $1.08 billion.
Roudebush said his international experience at Rockwell will help Standard Products expand globally. Last year, Standard Products opened a plant in Varginha, Brazil, to supply 1,000 sealing systems a day for the Fiat Palio.
The company also has a new plant opening in Aguascalientes, Mexico, later this year to supply Chrysler Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. The plant, 70 percent owned by Standard Products, is a joint venture with Nishikawa Rubber Co. of Hiroshima, Japan.