Magna International Inc. spread its wings under Don Walker, and the Canadian auto industry as a whole soared as a result.
Walker's colleagues and competitors believe Canada's supply chain gained respect in an increasingly complex and globalized landscape, thanks in large part to his 15-year run as CEO of Magna International.
Walker, 64, who retires at the end of this month, focused on global expansion and the development of new technologies, which helped give other Canadian suppliers credibility and fueled their own growth, said Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association.
During Walker's time as CEO, the Aurora, Ontario, company became the world's third-largest auto parts supplier, with worldwide sales to automakers of $39.43 billion in 2019. Its plastics operations, which includes major exterior trim such as bumper fascia and liftgates, includes an estimated $265 million in injection molding in North America along, placing it at No. 36 in Plastics News ranking.
It also has invested in composites, with a global technology center in Germany. The company developed a composite frame for liftgates made of a foam core wound with continuous glass fiber and infused with polyurethane thermoset material.
The development won it a Pace award from Automotive News in 2020, and the company is looking at more opportunities to place it on cars for liftgates and doors.