Superior Industries races time in naming next CEO

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Time is ticking on aluminum wheel supplier Superior Industries International Inc. as it searches for its next CEO.

Steven Borick, the Van Nuys, Calif., company’s CEO since January 2005 and son of its founder, Louis Borick, announced in October that he will retire March 31. With about two weeks before Borick’s exit, the supplier still hasn’t announced a decision.

Borick said during an earnings call last week that interviews were ongoing and that “we’re going to continue to move pretty rapidly.” Borick, who has been on Superior’s board for 33 years, said he will remain on it after retirement for the “immediate future.” But he said he will leave the CEO job even if a replacement is not named before his departure.

Looking for a CEO is often a lengthy endeavor that involves making a profile of the ideal candidate, building a list of potential suitors, rounds of interviews and company board deliberations, said Mark Angott, president of Angott Search Group in suburban Detroit. The firm has worked with automakers and Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers.

Headhunters say CEO searches take four to eight months on average, with four being exceptionally fast.

Sometimes, the process can hit a speed bump for public companies such as Superior if there’s a split among board members on who the best candidates are, an issue Microsoft faced during its CEO search, said Patrick Gray, partner of search consultancy NorthWind Partners.

“The more people involved in trying to come up with a template or paradigm to determine who that is going to be, or what that person’s background is going to be, is going to make that process that much longer,” added Jack Young, president of automotive search firm Jack Young Personnel Services Inc.

The customer list for Superior, one of the largest manufacturers of aluminum wheels in North America, includes Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Chrysler Group, BMW Group, Toyota Division and Tesla Motors.

Superior ranks No. 66 on Automotive News’ list of the top 100 parts suppliers to North America with an estimated $822 million in sales to automakers in its 2012 fiscal year.

Louis Borick founded Superior in 1957 as a maker of bug deflectors, overload springs and wheels. Superior got its big break in 1972 when it became the wheel supplier for the Ford Mustang, its first auto contract.

Brian Sponheimer, an auto supplier analyst at Gabelli & Co., said there’s nothing unusual about Superior’s search timeline as March 31 nears. It’s simply operating in a deliberate fashion, he said. “What they’re going to need is someone who has a strong vision for what the company is going to look like five years down the road,” he said. “I think the company has a very strong balance sheet and a lot of flexibility for a new CEO to be creative.”

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com. -- Follow Vince on Twitter


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