Quest for Excellence: ArvinMeritor Inc.
“A customer will only buy a module from us if we demonstrate leading technology in the relevant component area.”
— Bob Seed, ArvinMeritor
With nearly four decades of experience with OEMs and top suppliers, Bob Seed has recently moved from Lear Corp. to become vice president of sales and marketing at ArvinMeritor.
“The real strengths here are the diversity of products, the technological strengths, the global footprint, the quality of the people on our team and the way we service our customers,” Seed says.
His perspective is somewhat novel inasmuch as he looks at people within the company as customers that are not so different from customers outside the corporate walls. To be seamless, support must run in both directions to have successful programs.
“It is extremely important that we work closely with our business units to make sure they are getting the support from our external customers to run their businesses efficiently. That in turn brings our support back through sales and out to our external customers to help them be competitive worldwide. We have customers inside and outside the company,” Seed adds.
Since the merger of Arvin Industries and Meritor in 2000, the work has been intense on bringing together management systems to foster continuous improvement in all areas and processes. Six Sigma and lean manufacturing concepts were rolled into a so-called S3 (Six Sigma to the third power) program and in 2001 that evolved into a company-wide training program called ArvinMeritor Performance System (AMPS).
“This is a process where we take people from various functional areas and rotate them through other areas. We go for the most diverse mix that we can. We’ll put accounting people on the plant floor, engineers in accounting and so on. Over time everyone gets a chance to comment on all aspects of the businesses and the cross pollination from this process is absolutely terrific,” notes Seed.
“It helps establish “best practices” and then we roll that out to all employees worldwide at every level. The ideas that are generated are proof that there’s so much more that we can improve all the time in all activities. So we’ve really made that a way of life.” These days ArvinMeritor is moving even more strongly into the system and module area based on a strong and complete components portfolio.
“A customer will only buy a module from us if we demonstrate leading technology in the relevant component area. We take things we already do well and find a way to make them do even more than they did before,” explains Seed. “With this approach the component business supports the systems business and the systems business in turn supports the components business.”