John Barth is climbing to a higher perch at Johnson Controls Inc., where he promises to maintain an eagle eye on the automotive business.
Last month, Johnson Controls of Glendale, Wis., promoted Barth to president and chief operating officer. He had been executive vice president in charge of the company's Automotive Systems Group in Plymouth, Mich.
He will join a newly created office of the chief executive officer. The other members are CEO James Keyes and Stephen Roell, newly appointed senior vice president and chief financial officer. Roell had been vice president and CFO.
Patrick Dennis, controller for the Automotive Systems Group, also was named corporate controller at the parent company.
Barth told Automotive News, a sister publication to Plastics News, that he will continue to run the seating, interiors and battery businesses and will keep his office at the automotive headquarters. His new title will not trigger any changes in top management at the Automotive Systems Group, he said.
Barth, 52, has run Johnson Controls' automotive business since 1990. In the past five years, he has tripled sales while managing to make an operating profit consistently despite intense cost-cutting pressure from automakers.
Last year, the Automotive Systems Group reported sales of $8 billion, or 72 percent of the parent company's $11.1 billion total sales. The group ranked fifth on Automotive News' list of top North American suppliers for 1997, with sales of $4.95 billion.
A sizable chunk of Johnson Controls' automotive growth in the past few years has been by acquisition.
In 1996, it acquired Prince Corp. of Holland, Mich., an interior-trim supplier with annual sales of about $850 million. This year, it added Becker Group of Sterling Heights, Mich., another large interior-trim firm, with sales of about $1.3 billion.
But Barth said his company is interested in much more than simply bulking up. Both Prince and Becker, he said, added breadth to the product portfolio. Becker also provided Johnson Controls with an expanded, and much needed, presence in Europe.
The company is working hard to nourish those acquisitions, Barth said. Taking into account business booked through the next five or six model years, Prince's revenue will double, he predicted.
``We didn't buy these businesses to rip and tear them apart,'' Barth said. ``We're going to grow them.''