DETROIT - As manufacturing guru for Chrysler Corp., Dennis Pawley spent untold hours walking through factories, chatting with workers, and generally checking things out.
But even after his retirement last week at age 57 from what is now DaimlerChrysler AG, Pawley's activities will have a familiar ring. The former executive vice president of manufacturing and labor relations will still be touring factories.
Pawley was named a board director last week of privately held metal stamper Oxford Automotive Inc.
His first order of business at Oxford will be to visit its plants to get a feel for how the company handles its manufacturing processes.
That does not mean Pawley will play a day-to-day management role. But as the man who helped Chrysler embrace lean-manufacturing techniques through the 1990s, he remains, after all, an industry guru.
The Troy, Mich.-based Oxford is perhaps the most active consolidator in the very fragmented automotive-stamping industry. Last year, the company made two key acquisitions: the suspension division of Eaton Corp. and the Cofimeta Group, a French stamper.
Pawley predicts that such suppliers will face increasing pressure to reduce costs, improve quality and take on more engineering and design tasks. 'Those pressures are going to get tougher and tougher as time goes on,' he said.
Oxford, with projected 1999 revenues of more than $800 million, is also mulling an initial public stock offering.
No timetable has been disclosed for the offering. But Pawley's addition to the company's four-man board should lend Oxford some valuable credibility with Wall Street bankers.
Besides Pawley, the Oxford board includes Chairman Selwyn Isakow; Vice Chairman Rex Schlaybaugh Jr.; President and CEO Steven Abelman; and Manfred J. Walt, a Toronto-based investor.
Pawley also said he will open a Birmingham, Mich., office of Performance Learning Inc. on March 1. Performance, based in Las Vegas, trains organizations on the principles of teamwork. Pawley has an ownership stake in the company.