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Strategies for '90s headline Virginia meeting.

American management will have to decide if the 1990s will be a time for whining or winning,"George Booth told nearly 600 metalcasters attending this year's AFS Southeastern Regional Conference. Booth, general manager of Ford Motor Co.'s Casting Div., along with other top metalworking executives discussed business strategies for the '90s at the meeting held January 30-February 1 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Citing the loss of U.S. market share from 1970-87 in several major product groups, Booth warned that it is "time for American management to react." Of the examples offered by Booth to illustrate the loss of U.S. manufacturing superiority, many are electronics products, including telephones, color televisions, phonographs and semiconductors. Respective market shares for each

of these product groups from 1970-87 slipped by 99% to 25%, 90% to 10%, 90% to 1 % and 89% to 64%.

Booth also cited the U.S. production of machining centers, which has dropped from a 99% share of world production in 1970 to 10% by 1987. If we were to consider only the balance of trade, American manufacturing is losing the battle," Booth said.

Referring to the success of Xerox in the 1980s in regaining worldwide market share in the manufacture and sales of photocopiers, Booth pointed to that company's use of benchmarking as its first step in recovery. Benchmarking is a method used to determine a company's genuine position in its market or markets. One of the benefits of benchmarking is that it measures true productivity. "It tells us if we are really solving problems or pursuing pet projects," the Ford executive said.

Booth also suggested that benchmarking can help business make major strides toward meeting customer requirements, establishing goals, adopting better business practices and becoming more competitive.

John Williamson, president, Wheel & Brake Div./The Budd Co., also addressing business strategies for the'90s, said the best approach for the next decade lies in the lessons learned during the 1980s. Williamson asked three questions, the answers to which, he said, will go a long way in determining strategies for the next decade. His questions, which were directed at automakers in two countries, were: "Why has Japan been so successful? Why is GM having so many problems? And why is Ford outperforming both GM and Chrysler?"

The answer to the first two questions, Williamson pointed out, is that the Japanese are much more effective in design and simultaneous engineering. Using the door of a Pontiac Grand Prix and that of the Chevrolet Geo Prizm (produced by the joint venture between GM and Toyota), Williamson illustrated his point. The Grand Prix door is comprised of 14 separate pieces, requires 16 workstations and 113 spot welds to produce. More than 4000 square feet is required to assemble the door. The Prizm, on the other hand, requires nine pieces, 10 workstations, 61 spot welds and 1000 square feet of manufacturing space. In answering his third question, "Why is Ford outperforming GM and Chrysler?" Williams said "Ford learned the lesson of quality improvement and productivity better than the other domestic automakers." According to The Budd Co. executive, Ford requires an average of 3.4 people to build a car. At Chrysler the average number of persons per vehicle is 4.2 and 5 at GM. The key difference, according to Williamson, is that "Ford invested in people and processes in the 1980s, while the others invested in plants and equipment."

AFS Chairman Jerry Agin, vice president of sales/marketing, The Hill & Griffith Co., took on the subject of leadership in his presentation, "Run Through the Walls." Some of the key elements to achieving leadership, Agin said, are . effective communication, focused attention, consistent actions, expressed concern for people, and creating sensible risks and opportunities that involve others. The leader uses these behaviors and the resultant charismatic feelings to create and reinforce shared beliefs that define and sustain three key aspects of organizational culture: change, goals and people."

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Title Annotation:AFS Southeastern Regional Conference
Author:Kanicki, David P.
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Previous Article:Investment casters focus on process, applications.
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