Tom Whapham joined troubled automotive molder Libralter Plastics Inc. in Walled Lake, Mich., in 2001. In the mid-1990s that firm employed more than 800 and had annual sales exceeding $100 million, but ran into a series of problems that nearly bankrupted it. Today, a leaner, more focused Libralter is back on solid ground, with one plant, fewer than 250 employees and fiscal 2003 sales of about $35 million.
Whapham joined Libralter after retiring from automotive supplier Inalfa Roof Systems Inc. of Auburn Hills, Mich., where he was president, CEO and director of the $130 million Tier 1 business unit of a Dutch holding company. Prior to that, he served from 1994-98 as VP of automotive operations for Excel Industries Inc. in Southfield, Mich., overseeing 4,000 employees and $650 million in sales. From 1989-93, Whapham was corporate VP of operations for publicly held consumer goods maker General Housewares Corp. in Terre Haute, Ind. In five years at Detroit-based Sheller-Globe Corp. he served as a group VP of manufacturing and then as a corporate VP in charge of quality assurance and purchasing.
He began his career in 1964 by working 20 years for Rockwell International's automotive operations in Troy, Mich., first as director of materials purchasing and then as director of manufacturing engineering. He has a bachelor's degree in business from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, Ill.