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Quest for Excellence — 6th Annual

The votes have been tallied and AI's readers have chosen the top 50 suppliers for 2003.

Automakers go to market on the shoulders of their suppliers. They rise and fall in the J.D. Power ratings as a function of how seamlessly OEM and supplier systems blend. Supplier innovation in product and process enhances the functionality of vehicles, helps keep auto prices affordable, enables extended warranties, and definitely helps to drive sales interest among consumers.

There’s no question that supplying the automotive OEMs can seem like a thankless task. While rolling all the innovation and quality they can muster into a ball and presenting it on a platter, suppliers know full well that the price floggings will continue until profits improve. Those who stay at it must adopt a positive philosophic attitude. They remain undaunted, thriving on each challenge. And each new challenge is viewed as surmountable. This is the business each chooses to be in and this is the way it’s conducted. It may be ferocious, but each likes doing it and will continue to compete with success. That’s their view.

It is the fierce competition in auto building that drives the need for continual improvement in quality and price and that aspect of the business only becomes more acute with time. By working smarter and applying lean, efficient systems to every direct and indirect business activity involved, higher levels of quality must be achieved while lowering cost.

Though it taxes normal logic, the best know how to drive these factors in opposite directions. Who are the best at this high stakes game? To find out Automotive Industries asked thousands of OEM readers to rate nearly 300 suppliers from poor to excellent (from 0 to 5) on these important metrics: quality, price, delivery, service/support and innovation. Our readers have spoken. With more than 1,000 responses, the results were tabulated to determine The AI Fab 50 Suppliers for 2003 and within that group The AI Top 10 Suppliers.

There is no question that the larger multi-product, systems and system integrators, the Tier 1s, have an advantage in the polling, but many suppliers with a fairly narrow product line also bubble to the top. Their Quest for Excellence is unimpeded by size or scope.

They have a particularly well-honed core competency coupled with good execution that simply can�t be denied. They are obviously known and respected for what they do well. And they get high marks accordingly. Companies like Behr America, Cummins Engine Company, Freudenberg- NOK, Hella North America and Key Plastics are good examples.

What are the secrets to supplier success? Why do they rate so highly with OEM customers and what keeps them at the head of the pack? What are some of the programs used to insure continuous improvement and sustained strength? Automotive Industries interviewed executives from the Top 10 Suppliers of 2003, who shared their perspectives and insights. They are presented in alphabetical order in separate pages. 

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