A German automotive supplier of complete exhaust systems with an annual revenue of € 1.25 billion and 2,800 staff had to build two new plants to supply their customer in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Beijing, China. Both plants were green field projects close to the customer’s factories. Furthermore, the company had to replace its Plant Manager of its Shenyang, China factory because the jobholder, a German executive, wanted to return to Germany.


The German CEO determined that the first key hires for Tuscaloosa and Beijing would be the Plant Managers and a Project Manager for the Beijing site who would coordinate and optimize new development projects between the customer and internal corporate departments. The client wanted to locate candidates who could lead a start-up by hiring staff as well as purchasing equipment. The candidates for Plant Manager needed to have a background in mechanical engineering and extensive experience in managing automotive manufacturing units. Fluency in German and a sound knowledge of German business culture was a must. The candidates for Project Manager needed several years of experience in managing automotive development projects. English fluency was required, and candidates had to have experience working for a Western (European or North American) company in the past.


The company engaged AutoKineto collaborator, TOPOS Executive Search, which executed the project together with its Chinese and American partners. The search was conducted in China, Germany and the USA. Within six weeks, TOPOS and its partners delivered a short list of:
Nine candidates (six Germans, one Austrian, one Dutch and one Alsatian) for the Plant Managers in China, all of who had several years of work experience in China.
Six candidates for the Project Manager, all Chinese with experience working for Western automotive suppliers including AVL, Bosch, Delphi, Magna and Tenneco in the past.

Eight candidates (six Germans and two Americans) for the Plant Manager Tuscaloosa, the six Germans all had several years of work experience in the USA, the two Americans were fluent in German and both had worked for German companies in the USA.
All four vacancies were filled, the client was more than happy, and three years later, all candidates are still with the client and doing a good job.