Tides have turned in other ways. Sales for the China arm have risen in step with a booming Chinese auto industry. It now commands more than half of the company's $40 million in revenue and about two-thirds of the 210 employees.
And in the biggest shift, Malane decided to sell. The ownership, as of Jan. 1 this year, is now 100 percent Chinese.
Nantais is the only American to sit on the company's five-member board. The rest are Chinese. Among the directors is a representative from Guojing Capital, a principal investor.
Malane operates without a formal title, but he still comes to work every day and plans to for the foreseeable future.
His main role, he says, is to ensure that common procedures are followed globally at the company he bought from Swedish owners that is now in Chinese hands.