Since arriving in September, Visteon President Michael Johnston has been visiting company operations and meeting with CEO Peter Pestillo and other top leaders to shape next year's strategic plan and operating budgets.
Johnston spoke with Staff Reporter Amy Wilson about some of his ideas.
What is the optimum balance of non-Ford and Ford business (about 88 percent in 1999) and how do you get there?
I don't know that there is an optimum balance. Pete has said obviously we want to decrease that percentage. However, we don't want to do it by losing Ford business. So obviously the other area of focus for me will be the non-Ford automakers and putting the products and processes in place that it takes to win that non-Ford business. And frankly our folks at Visteon have done a great job at winning non-Ford business. So we have a lot of orders booked and we have to make sure that we execute in a flawless way because we're going to be under a microscope on every new order we take.
What is Visteon's strategy for achieving global diversity and product diversity?
I go back to Pete's comments that we intend to significantly grow our European business. We can't do that running it from Dearborn. So we have to have presence in Europe, which we've already got. We have a good head start on manufacturing locations around the continent. We have some in some low-cost countries. We have a good product range in Europe.
Our mind set has to be we will do and structure and put the processes and disciplines in place, whatever it takes to grow our business. And we have a heavy focus in Europe to do that.
Visteon and other suppliers have been hit hard by Ford production shutdowns, a weak euro and turndowns in the heavy-truck and aftermarket businesses. What kind of challenges do these issues pose?
We're still hopeful. Obviously we still track identically with Ford at this point. Long term, I don't think we know, but we're not expecting it to continue long term.
Does this position put you on track for Visteon's chairman and CEO post?
I honestly don't look at that. What I looked at was an opportunity to come and be part of a team, creating a new culture and vision with global reach and almost a clean sheet of paper. We together have the opportunity to chart the course of a significant automotive technology company, and that's all I'm focused on.