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Richard D. Adams :
Center for Automotive Research´s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich.


Richard D. Adams :
Think the world is round? Think again – at least for the automotive industry.

"The world gets flatter day by day," Chairman Tim Timken said Wednesday at the Center for Automotive Research´s Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Mich. It´s the largest automotive management conference in North America.

"Twenty years ago, China, India and Eastern Europe were on the other side of the world," Tim added. "Today, they play a vital role in our boardrooms, our investments and, more and more, our culture."

Tim joined other senior executives from the automotive industry´s major manufacturing and supplier organizations in addressing how to thrive doing business in this "flattening" world. Other speakers were:

Dick Dauch, chairman, co-founder and CEO, American Axle & Manufacturing;
Mark Fields, executive vice president and president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company;
Jennifer Granholm, Michigan governor;
Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corporation;
John Mendel, senior vice president of automobile operations, American Honda Motor Company;
Jim Morton, senior vice president, Nissan North America; and
Eric Ridenour, chief operating officer, Chrysler Group.
Tim discussed two main points. First, the significant impact that the "flattening" of the automotive industry will have on investment choices in the U.S. Second, how the kinds of decisions industry leaders make – and how quickly those leaders make them – define a company.

"The greatest companies are those that positively and regularly surprise their customers. Those are the ones that stay ahead of the competition," the chairman said. "This is where value is born."

Tim noted that the company has made significant investments in Timken´s automotive business in recent quarters and refocused its automotive plants to achieve greater efficiency and add capacity to Timken´s strongest lines. He added that Timken is strengthening its automotive engineering capabilities with a new facility at the Timken Technology Center in Greenville, S.C.

According to Tim, the success or failure of the industry – and Timken – has everything to do with the speed and accuracy of the decisions leaders make.

"As a supplier, I know I need to think more like my customers and my customers´ customers," he said. "I have to be a supplier of knowledge and intelligence, which leads to innovation. And I owe it to my shareholders, my associates, myself and my industry to make bold decisions, based on core values, to impact profitability, growth, and long-term strategy."

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