McClure: "The challenge is growth in Asia Pacific. And not just low-cost manufacturing. We want to work with Asian automakers."
In large part, that means becoming a bigger player in Asia.
ArvinMeritor is riding the crest of resurgent North American commercial truck sales, and its profit margins are rebounding. But McClure, 50, faces tough decisions about the company's future after he becomes CEO on Aug. 9.
McClure had been CEO at Federal-Mogul Corp.
ArvinMeritor's aftermarket business is faltering, and analysts say several other segments should be put on the auction block.
ArvinMeritor, of Troy, Mich., reported that operating income in its aftermarket parts business was $31 million in the year that ended Sept. 30. That was down from $66 million the previous year. Analysts also question the benefit of ArvinMeritor's door, roof and sunroof business. They say that it could be sold to pay down debt.
McClure, in a joint interview with retiring ArvinMeritor Chairman Larry Yost, 66, signaled that the global commercial vehicle market and Asia are high on his agenda.
"The challenge is growth in Asia Pacific," McClure said. "And not just for low-cost manufacturing. We want to work with Asian automakers."
ArvinMeritor told analysts in June that by 2007, heavy- and medium-duty truck production in China is expected to be larger than in combined western European and North American markets.
ArvinMeritor has manufactured in China since the 1980s. It builds light-vehicle exhaust systems, axles and window regulators. Of its 150 manufacturing plants, six are in China.
"We in Michigan understand what has happened to the Big 3's market share," McClure said. "But there are opportunities in other parts of the world."
McClure was CEO of supplier Federal-Mogul of Southfield, Mich., for a year. He had been COO since January 2001. McClure was part of the team that restructured Federal-Mogul, allowing it to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Federal-Mogul said last week that Steve Miller would serve as interim CEO. Miller, 62, is nonexecutive chairman of Federal-Mogul's board.
It was under Yost's decade-long leadership that ArvinMeritor was created. It began with the 1997 spinoff of the automotive unit of Rockwell International Inc. as Meritor Automotive Inc., which later merged with Arvin Industries Inc.
ArvinMeritor's total global parts sales to automakers last year were $3.92 billion, making it No. 24 on Automotive News' list of the top 100 global original-equipment parts suppliers.