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MANUFACTURING: Masamichi Kogai, Former executive vice president in charge of production and purchasing, Mazda Motor Corp.
 
Kogai, 59, labored for years to overhaul Mazda's production system for ultra flexibility and efficiency, and as a result, helped revive the tiny Japanese automaker after four years of red ink.
Among his achievements
rolling out a new production system that makes the company's erstwhile loss-making export base a profit center again -- even at what were once crippling foreign exchange rates. By reconfiguring plants to a new drivetrain and chassis architecture, known as Skyactiv, Kogai's improved production process slashed 60 percent from the traditional tooling investment costs and boosted randd efficiency 30 percent.
Along with increased overseas parts procurement, Kogai's innovations aim to cut overall vehicle costs by as much as 30 percent. His strategy has even been parlayed into a new branding message for Mazda under the buzzword monozukuri, Japanese for "the art of making things." He did such a great job, the company elevated him in June from vice president in charge of production and purchasing to CEO.