CHANGSHU, China -- A year ago, Todd Fortner rolled the dice on his future and left a sales manager's job with Visteon Corp. in China.
His new position? President of Changshu Automotive Trim Co., a privately owned supplier in Changshu, a small city near Shanghai.
The company, also called CAIP, has landed contracts to make engine compartment plastic parts for a Volkswagen AG joint venture in China and for the Ford Mondeo worldwide.
"You can make a difference here. There are more opportunities for smaller parts companies in China now," says Fortner, a 38-year-old American. "Before, the larger companies affiliated with the big OEMs were guaranteed sourcing contracts."
Many Chinese companies, especially privately owned companies, want to be more than just low-cost manufacturers for overseas suppliers. They are aggressively laying the foundation to become exporters in their own right.
The joint ventures, and bringing in a foreigner as president, are part of CAIP owner Luo Xiaochun's brash plan to challenge multinational giants such as Visteon in the international market.