– Detroit is not a forbidden city for Hyundai Mobis
Is Detroit a forbidden city for Korean companies?
“Definitely Not” replies Won Ghee Yang, the President of Hyundai Mobis Detroit that opened an assembly plant on Detroit’s west side in June of 2010. Hyundai Mobis settled in the ArvinMeritor’s building to supply front and rear suspension modules for the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Since then, the plant has employed 308 local workers to maintain two shifts that achieved $23 million in sales since its opening. Their next goal is $7 billion to support 250,000 vehicles.
Yang added, “Detroit has been good for our business. No break-ins. No crimes. We still have buildings with broken windows and partially collapsed walls around our area, but we walk down the street to eat lunch with no hesitation.” “Frankly speaking, there were some concerns about the safety in Detroit before we made a decision to come to the city, but it was the right decision to open a business in Detroit. Detroit was a welcoming city for our company,” he said.
Another concern about opening a plant in Detroit was working with the unions. Many foreign companies, even American companies, don’t even think about coming to Michigan without a definite view about unionization. However, it was a different story for Hyundai Mobis Detroit.
He added, “People in Detroit are diligent and hard working. Our employees are doing a great job day-in and day-out. When we have an issue, we are open to solving the problems through communication.” Mr. Yang expressed his satisfaction with his workers who are the members of UAW Local 600.
Bob King, the president of the United Auto Workers, was at the opening ceremony a year ago and said “When you do it in an urban environment, we really appreciate that social commitment.”
President Yang is a big advocat of urban development. His company sponsors several youth programs around the town. He is also open for student co-op programs to train Detroit youngsters in the plant. He calls on local universities for help when he has technical difficulties. Kettering University in Flint and University of Toledo were the strategic partners for his engineering improvement. President Yang is reaching out to Wayne State University, which is 20 minutes away in the same city, for the same purpose.
President Yang says, “Michigan is a good state to start business. It has an engineering mindset, quality control capability, and most importantly face-to-face contact with major buyers.”
Traffic jams on I-75 around the city are a big hassle for the company, especially when it has to deliver the assembled products on time to the Chrysler Group L.L.C.’s Jefferson North assembly plant. Tax incentives on part-carrying containers is on his wish list because he has to spend $7 million to equip the containers on a yearly basis. “As the Labor pool becomes shallow,” he hopes the city or state government can invest more in training people to be ready for work. “The fees charged by head hunting companies seemed to be too high,” he stated. He also wishes to see more R&D pools around the city.
“When ArvinMeritor Inc. decided to leave the light-vehicle business, its employees were about to lose their jobs”, says plant manager Daniel Downey. “We are glad that we can still work with Hyundai Mobis. Mobis provided opportunities to all former Arvin Meritor employees first. Employment benefits are improved including better Health care with lower deductible,” he added. The hourly employees of Mobis can pay a fixed amount towards their employee benefit, whereas they previously had to pay a percent based amount which rose as benefit costs rose.
Dan enjoys working for Hyundai Mobis. He likes ‘the Detailed Management style’ of President Yang. Dan is not the only one who enjoys working for Hyundai Mobis Detroit. There are some who decided to stay with Mobis although they received better offers from other companies. A pleasant working environment with unambiguous direction makes workers unpuzzled and more comfortable at work.
President Yang is well known in the company for his straightforward management skills; clear direction setting and continuous support. President Yang believes solutions to problems can be achieved either inside or outside of the company. “Don’t give up when you do not have the solution. Then try to find who has the solution. You can always buy the solution from an outside source.” He also encourages his workers to bring any problems to him. Through open dialogue, they try to find the right direction and solutions together. President Yang delegates and then checks if the assignments are accomplished. If not accomplished, on a daily basis he talks over the status of assignment until each is accomplished.
Hyundai Mobis Detroit is running a very unique business model. Hyundai Mobis Detroit sounds like a Korean company, but it has only four Koreans from Korea and the rest are recruited from the Metro Detroit area. It uses 100% of American parts to assemble for American auto companies.
When there are so many companies that say “It is time to leave Detroit,” Hyundai Mobis says totally the opposite, “It’s time to stay in and grow together with.”
6401 W. Fort St. Detroit, MI 48209
Phone: 1-248 – 521 – 7900
By Tack-Yong Kim
Hyundai Mobis Detroit is the first Korean auto part supplier that opened its assembly plant in the city of Detroit last June to supply front and rear suspension modules for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It has hired more than 300 Detroiters and achieved $23 million in sale since its opening of 2010. Hyundai Mobis Detroit is devoted to urban development and satisfied with its decision to settle in Detroit. The company is aiming for $7 billion sale to cover 250,000 vehicles. The opening of the Mobis plant was a great news to local workers who were supposed to leave jobs as ArvinMeritor decided to leave the light-vehicle business. Detroit was a forbidden city to many foreign companies to start business, but Hyundai Mobis is talking about a different story about Detroit.