Peter Marks, CEO of Robert Bosch Corp., the North American arm of German industrial giant Robert Bosch GmbH, thinks he can increase business by 6 to 8 percent per year. That will happen, Marks says, by continuing Bosch's tradition of innovation in safety and engine management systems as well as by acquisitions. Marks, 52, an engineer who has been with Bosch since 1977, took over for the retired Kurt Liedtke in January. He spoke with Staff Reporter Richard Truett and Industry Editor Philip Nussel.
Are higher fuel prices good for Bosch? Your company can profit from high fuel costs because Bosch is such a large supplier of parts for diesel engines.
We are concerned if mobility is hampered by increasing fuel prices in general. This is not good for the automotive market as a whole. In terms of fuel consumption and reduction of fuel consumption, it is part of our core objectives to be involved in providing core technology to help reduce consumption.
Can diesel hybrids ever be made more affordable?
We are also looking at the option of hybrid, plus diesel. But you are adding two times the additional cost. So it remains to be seen whether it can be a viable business case.
You've been at the helm of Bosch in North America since the first of the year. What have you been working on, and where do you want to take the company in the near term?
The time I have been here is not enough for a complete picture. I have met people and management and toured different sites. I am analyzing what our next steps of improvement will have to be. We have a very ambitious target of growth here in the Americas, and that will be the main focus of my activities. We have plans to grow Bosch's sales in the Americas. Right now it amounts to about 18 percent of Bosch's worldwide sales. And in the next 10 years, we want this to be well beyond the 20 percent mark. There are a lot of growth initiatives that I will be focusing on.
Do you anticipate organic growth, growth by acquisition, a combination of both? What's your vision for accomplishing that goal?
We want to grow overall significantly in the range of 6 percent to 8 percent per year (in the Americas). With this, besides internal growth, we have to also look at external growth. Any good company keeps a portfolio of potential acquisitions and evaluates this in a systematic way. And so do we.
Will Bosch be able to maintain its profit levels in the United States?
The profit level, certainly in the automotive sector, is a challenging situation. We have some improvements to do in the Americas. But I think tough times require tough decisions. And we will be able to improve our profitability. Cost is derived from product - the design on one hand but also where you produce the product. The major leverage is really coming from the product design.
Are there any parts of Delphi that Bosch is interested in buying?
We have publicly announced that we are willing to look at parts of the businesses of Delphi, and we have addressed this to Delphi directly. But there are no decisions as of now what this might be and if we might acquire something.
You may e-mail Richard Truett at [email protected]