New leader: Job cuts not part of plan to bring profitability at Fuyao

Jeff Liu

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Jeff Liu

Fuyao Glass America’s new president has been hired to “stop the bleeding” at the auto glass manufacturer, but the company’s top executive said he won’t include job cuts in his plans to reach profitability.

In his first interview since being named the company’s top leader, Jeff Daochuan Liu told the Dayton Daily News on Monday that Fuyao Glass America has lost about $90 million in two years — and he intends to turn that around.

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

“It will be a really significant achievement, to break even next year,” Liu said.

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’s industry experience includes nearly 10 years as a purchasing agent for General Motors, one of auto glass producer Fuyao’s most important customers. He said that even though he has recently joined Fuyao, he has long been familiar with the company as a veteran of Chinese industry and manufacturing, and he knows what its customers want.

He stressed 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.

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The Moraine plant is the value-added side of Fuyao Glass America, which also consists of a glass supply plant in Mount Zion, Ill. The Moraine glass takes the raw glass supplied by the Mount Zion plant and prepares it for shipment to North American automaker customers.

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

“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.

“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.”

RELATED: Fuyao says leadership shakeup helps position it for the future.

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 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.

RELATED: Fuyao celebrates grand opening of Moraine plant

“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 customers in the right markets.

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

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

Before joining Fuyao, Liu served as vice president of global sales and marketing and as a member of the board of directors of Chongqing Chaoli Hi-Tech Co., Ltd. At that company, he developed global sales strategies to expand the company’s presence in North America and Europe and was instrumental in making the firm a global supplier for a major automotive original equipment manufacturer, Fuyao said last week.

“I knew Fuyao actually 20 years ago when I was a GM purchasing agent,” Liu said. “In that time, no one believed that Fuyao could turn into what it is today, a huge company, actually a very successful company in the auto glass industry.”

Unmatched coverage

Fuyao Glass America’s president sat down first with the Dayton Daily News on Monday to discuss the company’s future. Count us to continue our in-depth coverage on the growing manufacturer.

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