Guido Durrer was named CEO of the newly created airbag supplier Joyson Safety Systems in Auburn Hills, Mich., last year. Through that company, Durrer, 64, is rebuilding the global operations Joyson acquired from Takata Corp., the Japanese airbag Goliath that collapsed because of defective and potentially deadly airbags.
Durrer spoke with News Editor Lindsay Chappell about the ongoing effort to ensure that Joyson distances itself from Takata's past product defects. Here are edited excerpts.
Q: How do you reassure the industry that Joyson has moved beyond the product quality problems of Takata?
Durrer: We focus on quality. As a result of the Takata recall, we still have the Department of Justice involved in our company, and will until the middle of next year. We are going through a lot of programs to teach everyone processes and policies, to conduct audits that make sure that our people know what to do for safety and quality. We are instilling a new culture, that safety comes first.
Q: What does the Justice Department have you doing?
Durrer: We are going through about 150 tasks globally, at about 100 plants, to go through all correct procedures, audit each plant and make sure we are aligned globally, to correct mistakes, correct people's mindsets, install new equipment.
Q: Takata was the industry's largest airbag supplier. Can Joyson climb back to that spot?
Durrer: We will grow again. The company was on business hold with the recall and bankruptcy. But last year we signed more than $8 billion in new lifetime business. Customers have been coming back to us pretty quickly. First the Europeans and then the Americans, and then the Japanese. The issue of trust takes a little longer, but they're all coming back.
We have strong competitors, and we're now only No. 2 in the market. But we would like to be back at No. 1.