In a world in which unpredictable trade wars, revolutionary technology changes, relentless competition and constant customer pressures are the norms, auto suppliers have nowhere left to hide.
They must succeed globally, but compete like hell locally. They must bend over backward for their customers' often unpredictable production needs. They must produce perfection in their manufacturing processes. And then, just when their automakers are happy, the customer could always form a partnership, merger or joint venture designed to — guess what? — reduce the cost of components and technology.
How does a supplier grow amid all this? Innovation.
There are many great examples, as the Automotive News PACE Awards demonstrate every year. One lesser-known supplier, Kiekert, offers a compelling case study.
Kiekert's corporate roots date back more than 160 years in Germany. It still has a German name, but in 2012 it was quietly acquired by China's Hebei Lingyun Industrial Group Corp. It has a manufacturing hub in Puebla, Mexico, to support its growing business on this continent, which accounts for more than a third of its global volume.