Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Waving the flag isn’t necessarily the answer to meeting global competition, Friedemann Strasser, COO of Getrag Transmissions Corp., suggests in a Management Briefing Seminars session here Tuesday.

Based in Sterling Heights, MI, the North American unit of Germany-based Getrag GmbH & Cie KG has powertrain and transmission operations in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mexico and is constructing a new $500 million facility in Tifton, IN, to manufacture dual-clutch automatic transmissions, with opening set for 2009. It will employ 1,500.

“I’m semi-American – I’ve been here 20 years,” Strasser says, “and my two kids are ‘Americanized.’ But the auto industry is globalized – the world has become flat.”

He continues: “I can understand the need to protect your (home) country, but we’re also a proud global company. We don’t have borders anymore for people (that want to be) competitive. You have to manufacture where it makes the most sense.”

Strasser and his fellow panelists bemoan the fact American students shun scientific and engineering careers.

“When Bill Gates goes abroad, the students hang from the rafters to hear him,” Strasser says. In the U.S., it’s more likely Britney Spears gets that kind of reception.