New Fuyao president expresses confidence

In first meeting with media, new president says local plant at full capacity will have 3,000 workers.

In his first meeting with local media, Jeff Daochuan Liu, the new president of the region’s fastest growing manufacturer, Fuyao Glass America, said the company has lost about $90 million in two years.

But Liu’s goal is to have the company break even in 2017 and reach profitability soon beyond that.

In fact, breaking even in 2017 is Liu’s “main goal,” he said Monday.

“It will be a really significant achievement, to break even next year,” he said in an exclusive interview with Cox Media Group Ohio.

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Liu said that even though he has recently joined global auto glass producer Fuyao, he has long been familiar with the company as a veteran of industry and manufacturing, and he knows what its customers want.

He also said that the push to profitability will not mean job cuts at the Moraine plant. With about 2,000 Moraine employees today, he said the company will have 3,000 local workers when the plant reaches full capacity, echoing comments other company leaders have said in recent weeks.

The Moraine plant is the value-added side of Fuyao Glass America, which also consists of a glass supply plant in Mount Zion, Ill.

Liu also said it’s the company goal to eventually turn the plant’s management over to local supervisors.

“Absolutely. That’s our goal,” he said in an interview at his office. “The thing is, all the families (of Chinese management), they are far from their homes. They’re not going to live here forever. We have to use the local people.”

He said company leaders have been concerned about the Moraine plant’s production levels. So far, he said, the Moraine plant’s yield rate is about 10 percent lower than a similarly appointed plant in China.

But he expressed confidence that the Moraine plant will achieve profitability. He said American workers will be sent to China for special training on how Fuyao runs its plants.

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“If we’re going to reach the same productivity, the same yield rate, I am sure this company, Dayton, will turn a profit for the company,” Liu said. “No doubt about it. I have confidence.”

He added later in the interview: “The chairman (Fuyao Global Glass Chairman Cho Tak Wong) insists, ‘I’m going to do this. I’m going to make this happen.’”

Liu was introduced as Fuyao Glass America president last week in a surprise management shakeup that saw former President John Gauthier and former Vice President Dave Burrows leave the company.

Liu has met with local workers and supervisors, and he has already started meeting with local officials, including city of Moraine officials, and he said he plans to continue to do that.

Fuyao bought the Moraine plant, a former General Motors assembly complex, for $15 million in May 2014. Since then, the company has invested some $600 million into acquiring the Mount Zion supply plant as well as making the Moraine site the world’s largest single-site auto glass factory.

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“From scratch to production mode, that’s an amazing achievement,” Liu said. “A $600 million investment in this plant, in 18 months, from scratch, to the production mode, that’s an amazing achievement.”

He had no precise timeline for achieving profitability, but he said he intends to help his sales team to find the right markets and the right customers.

Liu talked of approaching “high-value customers,” such as electric car manufacturer Tesla. He believes Fuyao has advanced, high-margin glass that wil appeal to those upper-end customers.

“We have world-class technology,” Liu said.

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