AKRON, OHIO (July 27, 12:45 p.m. EDT) — Who better to discuss the ever-changing landscape of automotive plastics molding than those helping to reshape it?
At Plastics News' Executive Forum 2000, two senior industry executives will assess where the market may be heading. Richard Crawford, chairman of Cambridge Industries Inc., and Thomas E. Evans, chairman and chief executive officer of Collins & Aikman Corp., will speak in their 90-minute session on the morning of Oct. 15 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Cambridge, a $530 million auto parts supplier based in Madison Heights, Mich., has typified some key industry trends — voraciously acquiring nine companies in 10 years, nearly tripling its sales in the past five years and now regrouping by adopting Japanese-style, lean-manufacturing processes throughout its 18 plants. It also has bucked the popular emphasis on thermoplastics, by gobbling up mostly firms that make parts made from thermoset sheet molding compound.
Cambridge describes itself as the most process-diverse supplier in the automotive industry, since it does compression molding, blow molding, injection molding, injection/compression molding and extrusion.
Crawford, in an interview earlier this year, said, "When I first started, this industry had five suppliers doing more than $50 million (a year in sales). ... Today in our industry you can't survive doing (only) $100 million. The consolidation has been incredible."
Tom Evans, a 25-year veteran of global transportation markets, can speak to such change, as well. He joined Collins & Aikman in April from his post as president of Tenneco Automotive, where he oversaw a major restructuring and overseas expansion, and helped double the firm's original-equipment business in four years.
He also has worked for Rockwell International's Automotive Operations, Federal Mogul Corp. and Case Corp., where as senior vice president of worldwide operations he helped to restructure and take Case public in 1994.
Collins & Aikman, currently based in Charlotte, N.C., but moving its headquarters to Troy, Mich., this fall, is restructuring itself right now. The $1.8 billion maker of automotive interior trim once was known mainly for its vinyl-backed automotive carpeting, but has expanded its interiors portfolio significantly this decade.
C&A, which placed 13th in PN's 1999 ranking of North American injection molders, aims to market its products as a complete interior styling system — from dashboards to floor mats.
"If you can't see it, we don't want to make it," Evans has said, with an emphasis on sophisticated components that incorporate multiple materials, finishes and colors.
In their automotive industry breakout session at the executive forum, which will be moderated by PN automotive reporter Joe Pryweller, Crawford and Evans each will offer their views on such topics as consolidation and globalization, vendor-supplier relationships, and expected industry trends. That will be followed by a half-hour discussion with attendees.