At one time, MSX International, headquartered in Warren, was the world’s largest independent automotive engineering firm. In a lesson requiring perseverance, the company has evolved from an R&D house operated by Chrysler ex-patriots into a $400-million global player providing consulting, training, and staffing services.
“From that technical legacy, we now work on improving sales and services at automotive dealerships as well as offering customized training programs for companies like Johnson & Johnson, Whirlpool Corp., and Unilever PLC,” says Fred Minturn, MSX’s president and CEO. “It’s been a bit of a roller coaster.”
According to Minturn, one of the company’s most daunting challenges is winning the “war on talent” in China; the Middle Kingdom’s breakneck economic expansion has crimped the supply of engineers. “We work with OEMs to set up academic programs and bring in engineers to meet demand from domestic and international automakers and their suppliers,” he says.
Minturn says his past career provides a greater appreciation for R&D needs and product launches. He worked on tooling and prototypes for the stealth bomber and the Humvee, both on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense, and he also was involved in an attempt to develop a “woody” version of the Chrysler K-car in the 1980s.
Today he oversees a staff of 4,000 employees working from 42 different countries. Most recently, MSX acquired Human Capital Development in Brazil to expand its employee-training offerings. Roughly 75 percent of MSX’s revenue is the result of international sales. Clients include the Big Three, Penske Corp., Fiat, and TRW Automotive Inc.
“The name of the game is building and enhancing customer loyalty, no matter the industry,” Minturn says. “It keeps your customers coming back, and they, in turn, tell their friends and family. That’s the bottom line for building any business.” db — R.J. King