At the end of 1995, as North America’s two largest auto makers contemplated spinning off their parts-making operations, Frank Macher knew Ford Motor Co. needed to exit component sectors in which it was uncompetitive. “We’re either going to improve or get out,” Macher, then general manager of Ford’s Automotive Components Div., told Ward’s in an interview at the time. “The non-core businesses have to make money.” Macher made it sound simple, but 10 years later the parts operations show ...

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