Top executives at three large North American auto part suppliers stepped down from their positions this week.
Superior Industries International CEO Don Stebbins said Friday he is retiring effective Dec. 31. The aluminum wheel-maker said Chairman Timothy McQuay will immediately assume the role of president and CEO.
Autoneum North America CEO John Lenga, 48, is stepping down to pursue new professional challenges. And Nathan Bowen, 49, vice president and general manager for North American operations at Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, departed that position Thursday, according to a spokeswoman at Yanfeng’s Novi, Mich., offices.
The unrelated changes cap off an increasingly tough year for auto suppliers, who are seeing a slowdown in global production volumes, along with dramatic shifts in programs as consumers switch from sedans to crossovers.
Based on their sales to automakers in the North American market, each of the companies ranks among the top 100 companies on Automotive News’ 2018 Top Suppliers list. Yanfeng ranked 27th, with North American sales to automakers of $ 2.75 billion. Autoneum ranked 64th with 2017 fiscal year North American sales of $ 995 million, and Superior was 79th with $ 720 million in North American sales.
Autoneum, a Switzerland-based engine cover and acoustics supplier, said in a statement Thursday that Fausto Bigi, head of its South America, Middle East, Africa business group will be interim head of North America until a successor is appointed.
Autoneum noted in its statement of the management change that operational challenges at its U.S. plants and restructuring costs will negatively impact its North American profitability margin for the 2018 financial year, which will be less than its previous expectation of “around 6 percent.”
Lenga was CFO of the North American business unit from 2007 to 2015.
The statement said that Autoneum’s board and global CEO Martin Hirzel thank Lenga “for the work he performed and his strong commitment to the company and wish him all the best for his future endeavors.”
At Yanfeng, Bowen has played a key role in the Shanghai-based company’s emergence in North America since it arrived in 2015 through an acquisition of Johnson Controls’ interiors business. Yanfeng opened new plants in South Carolina, Tennessee and Illinois and has grown to a volume of $ 2.7 billion, up from about $ 2 billion in sales in 2015.
In a recent interview with Automotive News, Bowen said that a key part of his role at Yanfeng was to keep the interiors company on the cutting edge of emerging technologies in North America. He said Yanfeng has been relying on “think tank” relationships with large numbers of startup ventures.
“We’re recognizing the amount of new technology coming into the industry, and we realize we can’t know it all ourselves,” he said while still in his leadership role.
“We need these think tank partnerships,” Bowen said. “To try mastering all the technology emerging in electronics and software would break any company.”