Rob Wildeboer – September 2019

Dialogue with Rob

Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Martinrea International

At this month’s CEO Dialogue, Rob Wildeboer talked growth strategies, management models and technology. Here are our top three takeaways:

GROWTH through acquisition strategy allowed Martinrea to rapidly establish themselves in the industry. This is a strategy the company continues to utilize. As a public company, Martinrea has been able to quickly raise money to financial growth; a strong cash position allowed Martinrea to continue acquiring through the 2008/9 recession. Now in 2019, Martinrea has a truly global footprint with 47 facilities in nine countries worldwide. The investment that Martinrea puts into its people has also contributed to company growth. Martinrea’s entrepreneurial approach to growth is central to its culture and has enabled the company to hit its finance goals year-over-year.

A BALANCED CENTRALIZED/DECENTRALIZED MANAGEMENT MODEL is deployed which takes the Martinrea culture from corporate HQ into the field to be adopted in the local context. Martinrea succeeds at establishing independence within its plants across the globe. We saw how Martinrea’s culture translates to plant level on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Alfield facility which serves as a model of best practices in Martinrea facilities.

Commitment to lean manufacturing has driven out waste and focused the strategy on building efficiencies. The Alfield plant is a stunning example of how the lean approach to manufacturing combined with entrepreneurs at all levels, can produce solutions to challenges and drive profitability at the same time.

USING TECHNOLOGY to stay competitive has been a key to success for Martinrea in the automotive industry. Rob says positioning themselves as innovative leaders has attracted people with technical skills into their plants which has ultimately enhanced in-house strengths in engineering, design and tool and die production. Their internal capabilities give Martinrea the ability to translate design to “manufacturability”.

At the end of the day, Rob says their investment and commitment to technology and the entrenched support for entrepreneurial actions has allowed Martinrea to be competitive in Canada, a high-wage jurisdiction, even while competing with lower-cost regions.