Linda Hasenfratz is the leader govt officer of Linamar, a global car elements and system business enterprise primarily based in Guelph, Ontario, with 28,700 personnel at 60 flowers around the arena and a 2017 annual income of $6.Five billion Canadian (US$four.9 billion), Linamar is a prototypical 21st-century production enterprise in many ways.
It is also a circle of the relatives-influenced corporation. Founded in 1966 via Frank Hasenfratz, an immigrant from Hungary, as a one-person device shop in his basement, Linamar has been led by the handiest CEOs in its 52 years: Frank Hasenfratz, from 1966 to 2002, and Linda Hasenfratz, his daughter, from 2002 until the existing. Hasenfratz, now fifty-two, joined the enterprise at an access-level position in 1990 and gradually labored her way up to the corner workplace.
In her nearly 17 years at the agency’s helm, Hasenfratz has suggested Linamar via the global financial crisis, which laid low large swaths of the North American car enterprise, grown revenues fivefold, and led the organization’s diversification into regions that include industrial lifts and agricultural system. In the technique, Hasenfratz has established herself as one of Canada’s main corporate statespeople and a suggestion for women’s advancement in trades and STEM.
She sat down with strategy+enterprise to speak about the business enterprise’s one-hundred-year plan, how Linamar is coping with the turmoil surrounding trade, and how production companies can work intensively to increase possibilities for women. S+B: It seems groups inside the car area are redefining themselves. Ford is now a mobile answers company.
Your website says your task is “powering automobiles, movement, paintings, and lives.” Can you inform us a bit approximately the evolution of your self-definition? HASENFRATZ: We came up with that at least ten years ago. It’s purposefully huge because part of our normal method is diversifying into new markets and supplying ourselves with more possibilities to develop the enterprise. S+B: You have made a few vast actions to diversify into agricultural gadgets and lifts.
Is this diversification, or is there a change at work right here? Are you looking to change the corporation’s nature or simply trying to modify the business mix? HASENFRATZ: To us, it’s more of a diversification strategy. Globalizing, diversifying, and specializing in environmentally beneficial markets, merchandise, and approaches to running our enterprise have been a middle part of our strategy for many years. Occasionally, I find this terminology around transformation, disruption, and anything frustrating.
When people say, “Are you the disruptor or disrupted?” — Why do you even have to say that? You’re innovating, and you’re developing your enterprise. I wouldn’t say I like the concept that everybody’s got to be in a bucket. You’re in a bucket over right here where you’re a disruptor, or, by definition, you’re in this disrupted bucket. We’re simply looking to develop our commercial enterprise, innovate, and take advantage of new technologies, and we’re continuously doing that.
I suppose there’s a difference between innovation around product, system, and material development. I would name true disruption as really new and progressive, taking into consideration a very different technique. Like Uber with taxis — that’s true disruption. The purpose I get irritated is people get caught up in the allure, and all of a sudden, traders best spend money on agencies they suppose are disruptors, something their definition is of that, which doesn’t make sense.
S+B: In February, to procure MacDon, a Canadian organization that makes agriculture harvesting systems, for $1.2 billion [Canadian]. HASENFRATZ: We have a hundred-yr plan at Linamar that consists of growth into a selection of markets. We’ve diagnosed six key markets we want to be part of. Some were jointly invested in our Skyjack enterprise, like transportation or infrastructure.
But meals and agriculture turned into any other market we’d identified as one we desired to have a more significant play in. We were already working with harvesting equipment from one of our Hungarian centers. But we felt a lot of possibilities for innovation, efficiency improvement, and enhancing yields within the discipline. We had been happy to locate MacDon almost outdoors as a splendid enterprise with the super era and growth potential.
S+B: Are there a whole lot of these styles of acquisitions coming? HASENFRATZ: No, that is extra-paced funding. We now target three markets: transportation, infrastructure, food, and agriculture. And I think there’s a big possibility to develop in everyone. Although we have three different needs, we’d like to be part of — water, energy, and age management — we’re now not nerve-racking to jump into every one of these properly. Doing something every five, six, seven years that’s big in terms of a play into a brand new market possibly makes the experience.
That doesn’t suggest we can lightly make investments and start understanding more about those one-of-a-kind markets and consequently build our approach. It is a one-hundred-year plan, so we don’t need to do it all in the subsequent six months. S+B: You’re one of the few CEOs of a prime vehicle enterprise corporation that successfully led her organization through the 2008–09 downturn and continues to be dwelling to tell the story.
What instructions, if any, of how you survived to inform how you operate? HASENFRATZ: Who we are as a company helped us for that time. We are a quick-transferring, very responsive agency. We’re entrepreneurial. We’re amazing-focused on lean and performance and continuously improving our fee structures.
So we didn’t have all these fats to reduce. But we nonetheless had to reduce fees because income dropped 30 percent. And we did accomplish that, and we moved fast to do it. We additionally targeted conserving cash. And again, several of our philosophies of running our corporation allowed us to do that more successfully than others. We tend to utilize a flexible, programmable system in our machining lines. Many organizations use the special-cause system, which is custom-made for that particular component and tends to be much less capital-intensive. Not all businesses do this.
But your volumes don’t usually pan out in which your customers think they will. And if you have a special-purpose gadget, you’re married to that potential. The fact that we had flexible CNC [computer numerical control] equipment that we ought to reallocate to new packages supposed that after the downturn came, we have been able to unencumber gadgets from current production lines, better in shape ability to real necessities, and reallocate that equipment into new jobs. That became important because the third part of our strategy began to develop after reducing fees and holding coins.
We had been actively searching out new commercial enterprise possibilities, taking up enterprise from other providers who were going bankrupt or exiting the commercial enterprise. We had the equipment to place the jobs without spending coins. We’d grown our content material in line with automobile so much using, taking up all that enterprise that our sales shot up as soon as volumes started to pick up again. Sales fell from $2.2 billion to $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion; however, we picked up $four hundred million takeover paintings. S+B: What level of debt are you secure with? HASENFRATZ: We’ve always been conservative on the debit side.
S+B: I’m positive it didn’t escape your word that the simplest one of the Detroit Three that didn’t cross bankrupt become Ford, which is own family managed or encouraged. S+B: I’m positive it didn’t escape your word that the simplest one of the Detroit Three that didn’t cross bankrupt become Ford, which is own family managed or encouraged. Once more, this served us well in that time body because we never came near breaking a covenant.
In many instances of uncertainty — and right now, there is lots of uncertainty around generation, politics, and change — who we are culturally is useful. In times of uncertainty, we must stay as bendy as possible in every manner viable, now not simply in phrases of our equipment but in terms of our approach. We like to mention that our method’s ability and commercial enterprise must correlate to the uncertainty level.”
You don’t have the class of stocks offering your family super control. But the organization, based using your father, has had the most effective two CEOs in the past half of the century. Is Linamar your family employer? HASENFRATZ: Well, we’re a family-influenced business enterprise. We went public in the 1980s. We’re no longer family-controlled. However, we do nevertheless very own approximately a third of the shares.
I suppose that own family groups — whether or not they’re a circle of relatives managed or family prompted — have an extended-term viewpoint. And to me, this is immediately correlated with your fulfillment. Because humans can get manner too stuck up in short-time period matters taking place and make selections that aren’t accurate for the long term. Family groups, because they envision future generations probably being worried and deriving their wealth from the organization, are aware of achievement within a long time. And while your call’s at the door or on the founding record, there’s a feeling of obligation.
Not that I don’t think that CEOs care about their companies. But I assume a deeper obligation and responsibility stage includes a family. Certainly, we’ve been capable of using our perception of being a private family enterprise to gain on the acquisition side. We’ve been capable of collecting a few circles of relative corporations that truly cared a lot about who sold their business. MacDon’s a great instance of that. Its leaders have been searching to sell the company for six or seven years but couldn’t get secure with non-public equity, suggesting we pay a truthful price.
Still, I’m confident these different groups were inclined to spend a terrific charge as correctly. S+B: Is a cadre of other family members operating in the business? HASENFRATZ: Only some in the meanwhile. My brother-in-regulation is a crew member, and I have a cousin who performs a position for us in Europe. I have four youngsters, so I’m hoping with any luck, one among them, or multiple of them, might be interested in coming into our enterprise. S+B: You noted you’re a hundred-yr plan.
The typical tenure of an S&P 500 enterprise CEO is something like five or six years. HASENFRATZ: Roughly 3.2 years. S+B: What is the intent of having a hundred-yr plan? What offers you the self-assurance you can guess what the sector is probably like in 2119? HASENFRATZ: I don’t think we will, as it should predict the future 100 years out. But we had been seeking out markets that could be important long-term. We looked at forces like a developing international populace; this is aging and urbanizing. And from all that research, we came up with the six markets we want to focus on.
That may thoroughly change. Thirty years from now, there will be something entirely new that no one’s ever idea of that comes up as a possibility. The key’s glaringly to stay abreast of what’s happening in markets and these mega-traits impacting markets. And mainly, maintain to innovate so that you’re continually developing new technology and applying it in new regions and markets. And it’s now not a hundred-year financial plan. I have a lower back-of-the-envelope concept of what we’re trying to increase over the next 25 years.
And I have a monetary model that goes out to 2040 only as a place to begin. It’s desirable to have a little touch bit of a framework. And then you keep adjusting and ensuring it maintains to create the experience and that you keep growing. S+B. You’ve spoken about innovation. What is the focal point or definition of change at Linamar? HASENFRATZ: The design of products, procedure innovation, and cloth improvement are the principal channels of innovation. We now have investments in mild metallic casting and forging and cloth improvement’s an essential part of the change for those businesses.
For instance, we make a hydro-shaped camshaft. That’s product innovation in that the cam’s design is exceptional, but it’s far a system innovation because it’s a manner to make the camshaft that’s one of a kind as nicely. S+B. Do you smash down internally or externally your quantity of R&D investment? HASENFRATZ: If we look at the combination of product and technique, we’d say it’s among 3 and 5 percent of sales. It’s been growing as a percentage of income over the past decade. S+B: Manufacturing as an enterprise has not usually been at the leading edge of diversity. How do you, individually, and Linamar as a company, work to promote more participation, particularly women, in STEM fields?
HASENFRATZ: Let me merely talk a bit first widely, approximately range. One component that could be a by plenty of Linamar is that people boost on merit. If you’re doing a super process, you’ll get an opportunity to advance, be promoted, and run a business. Canada is a rustic that has many immigrants, so we’ve got quite a few people working for us who are new Canadians. These are intelligent, beautiful humans, and if they may be doing a tremendous job, they’re going to get a threat to get promoted. With appreciation to ladies, we are representative proportionally at every stage inside the business to our levels of usual women.
The awful news is we’re most effective. About 20 percent of g feels normal. It’s all nice and suitable that we’ve been given 20 percentage w of women in management at each stage. But to increase the range extra, we need to have e greater number of women in the enterprise. A first-rate way to do this is to attract girls into STEM and the trades.
For the closing seven or eight years, we’ve run a summer season camp for ladies in grades seven and eight that is trades-focused with Skills Ontario and Skills Canada. We also host an occasion for young ladies in excessive faculty who can hear from women mentors already in various trades. At the closing 12 months’ dinner, I suppose we had two hundred attendees, which is extremely good. We have an apprenticeship program mainly for women, and we’re sitting at around 20 lady apprentices right here in Guelph right now. S+B: How else can you assist in constructing the pipeline? HASENFRATZ: With the recognition of STEM more broadly and engineering mainly, we installed a scholarship program with Western University [in Ontario] for women in the dual-diploma software of engineering and Ivey Business.
We aid ten women according to year. We pay half of their tuition for the three years of the dual diploma, and we deliver them a job in the summers of years three and four and a process provide upon commencement. Our first cohort of scholarship students is in place in these 12 months. And we’ve spearheaded a program that we’re proud of known as See It, Be It, STEM It. It is a website, social media platform, and calendar to draw younger women into STEM. We wanted to break this stereotypical photograph of who will be in STEM with this calendar.
We published 10,000 of them and tried to usher in a spread of regions: chemistry, math, biology, engineering, and agricultural science. It will likely be exceptional to have young ladies observe that and think, “Oh, I would like to try this job.” Or, “I can relate to this woman who plays volleyball; I play volleyball.” They may be stimulated by it. S+B: We hear from CEOs approximately a developing difficulty with alternate conflicts.
You’re a Canada-based totally automobile parts employer with flowers around the sector that does various move-border businesses. About half of the CEOs adjust their delivery chain and sourcing approach to address the converting world. How are these exchange tensions affecting your commercial enterprise and the styles of decisions you’re making? HASENFRATZ: I feel like what’s been taking place in North America during the last year with NAFTA’s renegotiation and the price lists is short-time period noise.
I would never change my delivery chain or my place of operations because of something as bra ief period as tariffs. I think it’s absurd that we nonetheless have them when we’ve agreed to a revised, unfastened change agreement. We will exchange with each other, except for this stuff, freely. Like, what the heck?
These price lists significantly impact American agencies more than everyone else because businesses are becoming hit on price in the manner in. They’re getting hit on the way out because of the retaliatory tariffs that Europe and other international locations enforce. So how does this make experience? It’s now not sustainable.
And I don’t make an extended-term decision, like I’m going to shift my production to the U.S., for something that, by definition, can’t hold. S+B. Do you experience such as you’re within the minority on that? Because we see headlines announcing Mercedes used to export most of these cars from the U.S. Now that they can’t, they are shifting manufacturing to China. HASENFRATZ: I suppose that it depends on the severity of the effect.
It’s clean for our business enterprise to look past the noise because it does not impact us. That’s a good deal. For a few organizations, the severity of the effect will dictate what they will do. Now, some businesses may additionally decide, “You realize what? We’ve been given this destabilizing force in the American management for at least two different years, perhaps six different years, and I don’t need to be a part of that.”
But don’t forget that eighty percent of the sector’s automotive production and sales are outside North America. So you will make selections that make feel for your worldwide business, no longer simply this one slice. S+B: Discussions around change are very certain in politics. Popular religion in open trade as a fine desirable has eroded confidence in businesses’ CEOs. How can someone such as you and your colleagues play a positive function in our discussions about alternate? HASENFRATZ: Focusing on facts and now, not emotions, are surely how I’ve continually tried to approach it.
The facts are that 8 out of 10 American production jobs that had been misplaced over the last two decades had been lost to automation, not trade. It’s a misconception that change has, by some means, eliminated positions. There are something like 6 or 6. Five million unfilled jobs inside the U.S. Today. S+B: It’s 7.1 million, in line with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. HASENFRATZ: Oh, that’s good to recognize.
So, wherein are these types of jobs that have been misplaced? I assume that there’s a real disconnect between the fact of what’s occurring and the manner humans suppose; the emotional side, in no small element, fanned by using the rhetoric of Trump and his campaigning absolutely blew that stuff out of percentage and didn’t awareness on facts and just tapped into emotion. So, I think knowing facts and making decisions based on the information is critical.
Make coverage selections based on statistics. Make investment decisions primarily based on records. S+B. You have a plant in North Carolina. Are you having an issue hiring within the U.S. And in Canada? And in that case, what kind? HASENFRATZ: We are having difficulty hiring anywhere — for professional and unskilled jobs — because unemployment is at forty-12 months lows. On the one hand, it’s forcing our hands to automate more than we likely would be doing if we could find humans.
For sure, the jobs are converting. We have manner greater indirect jobs than direct jobs. Direct jobs are humans loading and unloading machines, and indirect are largely anybody else. We used to have direct employees for every oblique worker, and Today we’re at about one to at least one and rapidly attending to greater oblique than direct jobs.
Interestingly, over the past seven years here in Canada, our blunt head depend has risen 36 percent, but the indirect head is counted up 62 percent. And wages have improved by seven to six percent. That’s a mirrored image, once more, that these oblique jobs also pay more. And sales consistent with worker has also increased significantly over that point frame by 35 percent.