John Kinnick, 43
President, Global Belts Division, Dayco Products
Big break: Leading a new factory project for Goodyear in China, making the transition from manufacturing to business
Dayco Products, a U.S. supplier of drive belts, water pumps, hoses and other engine parts, was just about to sell to new owners a few years ago when management called it off.
The company, they believed, was worth more than its valuation.
Instead, they embarked on a mission to shore up Dayco’s operations. To help do that, they recruited Michigan engineer John Kinnick away from ZF Friedrichshafen for a new role Dayco called its chief transformational officer.
It was a job that tasked Kinnick with dissecting Dayco’s supply base to find opportunities for improvements and cost savings. It was also a job that would catapult Kinnick last year to the post of president of Dayco’s Global Belts Division.
“There’s really no playbook for a lot of what you need to do in a job,” Kinnick told Automotive News. “There’s no training to be a president. You just need to get involved and ask simple questions. And the more you simplify, the clearer things become for everybody.”
Kinnick came from a wide-ranging career that included working as an engineer at General Motors’ tech center in Warren, Mich.; creating GM prototype vehicles; handling plant operations at a Goodyear factory in Buffalo, N.Y.; moving his family to China to build a Goodyear factory there; and working in global operations with ZF.
Moving to Dayco was an opportunity to help restore a company whose roots go back more than 100 years.
“I create change,” Kinnick said of his operating style. “If all you want is somebody to capture those last few percentage points, I’m probably not your guy. I like change. I like disruption.”
Part of Kinnick’s disruption was to look at every detail of Dayco’s global business. He discovered that individual operations were relying on different metrics to track their performance.
Kinnick put all plants on common key performance indicators and common manufacturing systems. Harmonizing them gave Dayco visibility into its true capacity opportunities as much as three years out, and it gave Kinnick freedom to move job orders from plant to plant to take advantage of free capacity and avoid creating back orders.
As a result, Dayco increased its ability to service customers, reduced back orders by 90 percent and cut 20 percent out of its freight costs.
“You have to surround yourself with really good people,” Kinnick said of his personal successes. “But you have to bring everyone along with you, and they have to want what you want. Because if you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably not in the right room.”
— Lindsay Chappell