Fuyao says leadership shakeup helps position it for future

Jeff Daochuan Liu, president, Fuyao Glass America. CONTRIBUTED

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Jeff Daochuan Liu, president, Fuyao Glass America. CONTRIBUTED

Fuyao Glass America has moved beyond its “start-up phase,” and to get the area’s fastest growing manufacturer to the next step it has made a number of leadership changes, officials said.

The automobile glass manufacturer announced Wednesday a major shakeup of the company’s senior management team at the Moraine plant, with company President John Gauthier and Vice President Dave Burrows leaving. Jeff Daochuan Liu, a veteran of Chinese industry, is now the company’s president.

“The changes, which are intended to improve the company’s operational efficiency, are expected to drive profitability in North America and position the company for future growth,” the company said in a statement.

Gauthier did an excellent job establishing the world’s largest automotive glass production plant, said Dan Curran, University of Dayton president emeritus and Fuyao Glass America independent director.

“But they’re entering another phase,” Curran said. “Again, there is a group expectation, a Fuyao Group expectation — that is very successful in China — that we reach the point, one, where we should be realizing a more positive financial situation.”

The newly named president will position the company to “move forward,” Curran said. Liu has 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.

“I am pleased to join the dedicated and talented management team at such a critical point in the company’s operations,” Liu said in Fuyao’s statement.

Curran expects the new president to introduce himself more fully to the community when the time is right for that. “I think when you look at any operation, it’s a logical progression,” Curran said.

Gauthier declined to comment at length when reached Wednesday.

“I’m just going to see what the options are,” he said. “It’s an amicable separation for me. I have nothing but good things to say about Fuyao.”

Burrows declined to comment.

“These changes to our senior management team are an important step forward as we transition from a construction phase into a mass production phase,” Fuyao Glass Global Chairman Cho Tak Wong said in the statement. “We believe this management reorganization optimally positions Fuyao Glass America for future revenue growth and profitability. Going forward, our focus will be on enhancing revenue growth and meeting the demand of our North American automotive customers.”

Cho bought the plant in May 2015, spending $15 million to purchase the former General Motors assembly site and hundreds of millions more to refurbish it.

“A lot has happened, a lot of positive things” Curran said. “But as with any corporation, it’s time to move to another level. And I think that’s where we are right now.”

Fuyao Glass America’s senior management today includes: Liu as president; Jimmy Junming Wang as vice president, capital investment; Jinshu Zhang, VP, production; Athena Jiangxiao Hou, VP, legal and compliance; Eric Vanetti, VP, human resources; and Julian Jianhong Zhu, VP, sales and marketing.

The company said Sunny Yiquin Sun will serve as Fuyao Group’s representative for Fuyao’s North American operations, including Fuyao Glass America. Sun with Curran will also be spokespeople for the business.

Cho and the company’s board of directors thanked Gauthier for his “committed work” establishing the company’s presence in Moraine and expressed confidence in the new leadership. Liu brings nearly 20 years of international business leadership experience to the position, the company said.

Asked in a phone interview if company leaders were dissatisfied with Gauthier’s performance, Sun said, “Actually, we thank him for the contribution he has made.”

“I think we will go forward with revenue and also we will increase our capacity, the run rate,” Sun said. “We will meet the requirements of the customer.”

She and Curran each said the recently announced Occupational Safety Health and Administration fines against the plant have “nothing to do” with the leadership changes.

Just last week, OSHA announced a proposed fine of $227,000 in penalties related to alleged unsafe working conditions at the plant.

Curran said it’s highly unlikely that the company will pay that full amount.

“It’s not related to that,” he said of the new leadership changes. “It’s related to a corporate expectation when Fuyao came in.”

Just over a month ago, the plant — which has some 2,000 local employees — celebrated a largely optimistic grand opening. The facility is the world’s largest single-site automotive glass manufacturing plant, with Cho investing more than $500 million into its American facilities, the company has said.

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