Since leading the U.S. materials supplier GST AutoLeather out of its bankruptcy three years ago, CEO Randy Johnson has kept his attention focused on three campaigns: improving global operations by instilling the lean-thinking Toyota Production System; being unwavering in the company's commitment to leather as its only material; and exploring new ideas for how cowhides make their way into cars and trucks.
On those first two counts, Johnson reports that GST is back, earning new business at the rate of twice its current market share. And to reflect its changing fortunes, the privately held company this year changed its name to Pangea.
But it is on that third count — innovation — that he says the supplier is really experiencing a heyday.
Pangea has developed a tanning method that improves the appearance of its leather while taking cost out of it. The company has also introduced a patented surface treatment, called 3D Embossing, that will show up on an unidentified new-vehicle program in the coming weeks. And it has adopted a new approach to working with customers by creating 3D graphic representations of proposed seat coverings before any leather is ever cut.