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2013 Spring Conference - Speakers

John S. Sofia

Vice President, Global Program Management
American Axle Manufacturing

John S. Sofia joined AAM in March 1994 as an Area Manager at Detroit Gear & Axle. He has served as Manufacturing Manager at Detroit Gear & Axle; Manager of the Current Production & Process Engineering Group; Director, Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Forge; Director, Advanced Quality Planning; Vice President, Quality Assurance & Customer Satisfaction; Vice President, Engineering & Product Development; Chief Technology Officer; Vice President, Commercial Vehicle Business and Vice President, Program Management & Launch. Prior to assuming his current position, Sofia served as Vice President, Global Program Management & AAM Manufacturing Systems.

Sofia began his automotive career at the former Chrysler Corporation in 1984 as a college-student-in-training in the Stamping, Assembly & Diversified Operations Group. He progressed through a series of manufacturing/engineering positions including Production Supervisor, Product/Quality/Process Engineer and Engineering Design Team Leader. Sofia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering technology from Purdue University. He holds a master of business administration degree from the University of Detroit.

Title: Manufacturing Does Matter

This subject was chosen because I am very passionate about manufacturing and the importance of what manufacturing means to a viable and competitive economy. Manufacturing is today, has been in the past and will remain in the future one of the critical engines that drive the economies of North America and for that matter the World.

Over the last 25 years, through smart teamwork and hard work, has allowed the Detroit automakers to be at or close to world parity and leadership on key issues that were previously considered shortcomings; quality, productivity, product design and advanced technology. The manufacturing sector, specifically automotive, has gone through a massive resizing, restructuring and recovery and has dealt with head on the massive global competition and the reality that the market and the customer are the boss.

Across the nation there are 12 million manufacturing jobs and the state of Michigan alone accounts for 24 percent of the national automotive industry between the automakers, automotive suppliers, and the dealers. The economic data clearly shows that manufacturing continues to play a vital role in the economy of the United States. Manufacturing in just five states alone namely California, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania account for more than a half a trillion dollars to the national economy every year.

Joe Markun

Director, Global Quality, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, Global Facilities Planning and Real Estate

Joe Markun is the director of Global Quality, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering, Global Facilities Planning and Real Estate Department, driving discipline and consistency throughout the enterprise to deliver valued, quality products, services and solutions. This organization is focused on delivering durable and reliable products to customers.

Prior to his role in Global Quality, Joe was a director for the Bucyrus manufacturing and supply chain integration. Markun started his career as an engineer in the College Graduate Training Program. He later graduated and joined the Aurora facility as a logistics systems engineer. Since joining Caterpillar Inc. in 1988, Markun held assignments of increasing responsibility in manufacturing, supply chain, business resources and operations.

Markun received a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Bradley University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Millikin University.

Joe is active in St. Mary’s School in Metamora, Illinois, and the Bradley University Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering & Technology organization. Markun is also a member of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation.

Title: Global Competitiveness

For more than 85 years, Caterpillar Inc. has been making sustainable progress possible and driving positive change on every continent. With 2012 sales and revenues of $65.875 billion, Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial gas turbines and diesel-electric locomotives. The company also is a leading services provider through Caterpillar Financial Services, Caterpillar Remanufacturing Services and Progress Rail Services. More information is available at:

Caterpillar research and development is a 24/7/365 effort. No matter what time of day or night, Caterpillar engineers are working somewhere in the world to design, simulate, analyze, evaluate and validate products and processes to ensure they will provide the maximum value to customers. Caterpillar is a global company with facilities strategically positioned to provide products and solutions tailored for the customer’s business environment. Our research and development footprint reflects this commitment to customer success. Regional facilities in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific position technical experts and validation assets where they are needed most to support manufacturing and sales opportunities. These facilities also enable us to attract and hire the best people with deep understanding of customer needs in all markets.

Randal A. Sergesketter

Senior Vice President, Engineering, Manufacturing and Supply Management, Worldwide Construction & Forestry Division
John Deere

Randal Sergesketter is Senior Vice President, Engineering, Manufacturing, Supply Management, and Worldwide Construction & Forestry Division of Deere & Company, a position he's held since November 2009. He is directly responsible for manufacturing, engineering, supply management, quality and remanufacturing worldwide. He and his teams are currently engaged in capacity and capability upgrades in existing operations; establishing new facilities worldwide to meet global growth objectives; and launching a host of new products and technologies to address emissions and customer requirements.

Sergesketter began his career at Deere & Company in 1980 through the company's summer training program, and became a manufacturing management trainee in 1981. He has held a number of manufacturing, engineering, and project related leadership positions, including Director, Worldwide Ag Division Order Fulfillment; General Manager, John Deere Ottumwa Works (Hay & Forage); and General Manager, John Deere Harvester Works (Combines). In June 2005, Sergesketter was appointed Senior Vice President, Manufacturing, Engineering, Supply Management and Order Fulfillment, for Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division. In May 2009, Sergesketter was named Senior Vice President of the Turf & Utility Global Platform.

He holds a BS from Purdue University and an MBA from St. Ambrose University. Randy spends time on campus as John Deere’s key executive for Purdue University and is also a member of the Dean’s Executive Council for the College of Technology. He has held similar roles at North Carolina State University.

Title: John Deere’s Global Growth Strategy: The RIGHT Manufacturing Footprint to Serve Those Linked to the Land

In order to support our Corporate mission of being “Committed to serving those linked to the land”, John Deere’s Construction and Forestry Division has embarked on an aggressive global growth strategy. We believe that strong “tailwinds” of global demand for food, fiber, and infrastructure will fuel the expansion of all of our business segments. The Global Construction and Forestry Division is uniquely positioned to serve existing and new customers as they participate in these major infrastructure and building initiatives. As we build our manufacturing footprint to support our customers around the world, we carefully and strategically make investment decisions regarding appropriate local manufacturing and supporting supply chain resources. We will enhance our current business and manufacturing process competencies in existing “home” regions, as well as expanding them to “local” regions where there is a compelling business case to do so. Highlighted in the presentation will be a focus on how the John Deere Davenport Works, in Davenport, Iowa, is enhancing and building upon our current manufacturing expertise with a new Factory “Master” plan. Also highlighted will be John Deere’s current and planned manufacturing expansions in Brazil, India, and China. Finally, a description of the various business considerations taken into account when planning global expansions, and how manufacturing competencies are considered in these global expansions, will be presented.

Becky Smith

Becky Smith

Director, Global Procurement, Beauty, Personal Care, Home Care, Durables

Becky has worked at Amway for 5 years, first as Manager, Supply Chain Finance and now as Director, Global Procurement. In her current role, she leads the Global Procurement team responsible for raw material and packaging material procurement as well as sourcing of third party contract manufacturing for Amway’s Beauty, Personal Care, Home Care and Durables business units. Becky has focused her efforts on building supplier relationships, leveraging global opportunities, creating game changing sourcing strategies that deliver both product and supply chain innovation, and building organizational capability to drive value for Amway.

Prior to joining Amway, Becky held positions at Chrysler LLC, Michigan State University, and Cargill, Inc in various finance and supply chain roles. She holds both a MBA in Supply Chain and Finance and a BS in Agribusiness Management and Animal Science from Michigan State University.

Title: Transforming Amway's Home Care Manufacturing Network

Headquartered in Ada, Michigan, Amway is one of the world’s largest direct selling businesses. Started over 53 years ago by two friends that had a dream for a better life for their families, Amway has grown into a $11B direct selling powerhouse with over three million Independent Business Owners in over 100 countries and territories around the world. In 1959, Amway’s first product, Liquid Organic Cleaner (L.O.C.) was the first concentrated, bio-degradable, and environmentally friendly cleaning product. Since then, Amway has expanded from home products to a global leader in the categories of health and beauty featuring exclusive brands such as Nutrilite®, the world’s leading brand of vitamin and dietary supplements, and Artistry® skincare and cosmetics, among the world’s top five, largest-selling, premium skincare brands.

In 2010, Amway set out to transform from a multinational company to a truly global company. A key pillar of this transformation included repositioning our global manufacturing and logistics network to reduce supply chain costs, drive down inventory, and increase responsiveness to the customer. For our Home Care business, where the price/value relationship is a key customer priority, this required a transition from an in-house, US-based manufacturing model to a globally distributed manufacturing model with multiple supply points around the globe. To minimize Amway’s capital investment, we engaged in an extensive search to select and qualify the right contract manufacturer in Europe where over 40% of our Home Care revenue is generated. We concurrently engaged in an intensive effort to localize the upstream supply base for raw materials and packaging components to maximize overall supply chain responsiveness. The result has been a 65% reduction in supply chain lead times, significantly lower duty and transportation costs, reduced inventory levels and a 70+% reduction in carbon footprint, all while maintaining service levels of over 98.5%.

Marc F. Stoken

General Manager – Raw Materials, North America
United States Steel Corporation

Marc F. Stoken joined U. S. Steel in 1976 as a management trainee at the company’s former Fairless Works near Philadelphia, Pa. During the next 19 years, he advanced through increasingly responsible positions in coke, iron and steel operations as well as facility restructuring at Fairless Works.

In 1995, Mr. Stoken was named senior purchasing agent in the company’s corporate procurement department. From 1998 to 2010, he progressed through increasingly responsible management positions in the company’s raw materials organization. Mr. Stoken was named to his current position in 2010 and is responsible for overseeing all raw materials purchasing activities for U. S. Steel’s North American operations.

Mr. Stoken is a native of Pittsburgh and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Carnegie Mellon University in 1976 and a master’s degree in business administration from Rider College in 1990.

Title: Sourcing Solutions at United States Steel Corporation

The steel industry has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade. As one of the steel industry’s oldest and largest companies, United States Steel has played an important role in the direction the industry has taken. Through innovation and development in their facilities, products, systems and people, the company is continually working to achieve their core value of focus on world class customer service, which includes curtailing cost, ensuring quality and communicating with our customers. With market conditions and the supply landscape constantly changing, determining the right sourcing solution is a continual process. During this presentation, Mr. Marc Stoken, General Manager at U. S. Steel will be discussing Right Shoring within the company including Sourcing Considerations, Product Options and Global Challenges.

United States Steel Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., is an integrated steel producer focused on high value-added flat-rolled and tubular steel products that are required by manufacturers in the automotive, appliance, container, construction, industrial machinery, and oil and gas industries. U. S. Steel has major production operations in the United States, Canada and Central Europe.

Craig Andrews

Director of Continuous Improvement 
ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Craig has over 30 years of experiencing in manufacturing, operations, training, and continuous improvement. He graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Industrial Engineering in 1983. Upon graduation, Craig embarked on a 23 year career with R.R. Donnelley, North America’s largest commercial printer. He held positions in manufacturing, customer service, and culture change. Craig’s experience at Donnelley included managing start-ups, leading acquisition integrations, implementing continuous improvement efforts, and turning around troubled operations. He held a variety of roles from Manufacturing Management Trainee to Plant Manager. He received his Executive MBA in 1991 from Baruch College in New York City.

At ConAgra Foods, an $18+ Billion global food company, Craig has been leading continuous improvement efforts via ConAgra Performance System for over 5 years. His current assignment in Lean Supply Chain involves creating an optimized run strategy to improve working capital and customer service as well as reducing other supply and material handling losses. Craig’s organization leverages tools such as Value Stream Mapping, Warehouse Optimization, Value-Added/Non-Value Added Analysis, Rapid Changeover, and Non-Finished Goods Optimization to drive results across 40+ plants.

Craig is also ConAgra’s liaison to Purdue for their recruiting efforts.

Title: Continuous Improvement Driving Culture and Results

ConAgra Foods, Inc., (NYSE: CAG) is one of the world’s largest packaged food companies. Its balanced portfolio includes consumer brands found in 97 percent of America’s households, the largest private brand packaged food business in North America, and a strong commercial and foodservice business. Consumers can find recognized brands such as Banquet®, Chef Boyardee®, Egg Beaters®, Healthy Choice®, Hebrew National®, Hunt's®, Marie Callender's®, Orville Redenbacher's®, PAM®, Peter Pan®, Reddi-wip®, Slim Jim®, Snack Pack® and many other ConAgra Foods brands, along with food sold by ConAgra Foods under private brand labels, in grocery, convenience, mass merchandise, club stores and drugstores. ConAgra Foods also has a strong commercial foods presence, supplying frozen potato and sweet potato products as well as other vegetable, spice, bakery and grain products to a variety of well-known restaurants, foodservice operators and commercial customers. ConAgra Foods makes everyday food in extraordinary ways! For more information, please visit us at

Over 7 years ago, ConAgra Foods embarked on their continuous improvement journey creating the ConAgra Performance System (CPS). This is a structured approach to create an operating system which combines proven methodologies and tools with the talents of our employees to drive results. The goal is to achieve zero loss through a culture of continuous improvement. The speaker will provide a high level overview of ConAgra Foods, discuss why CAG is leveraging CPS, describe the CPS structure, show some results from CPS efforts, and link CPS to ConAgra’s Recipe for Growth.

Sriram (Srisu) Subrahmanyam

Vice President, Global Engineering
Ingram Micro

Srisu Subrahmanyam is a senior operations executive who delivers significant and sustainable value through business optimization, analytics, and technology with a relentless focus on execution. He has over 15 years in consulting and as an executive in multiple Fortune companies. Subrahmanyam has deep process experience, with proven results in both the manufacturing and service sectors, having served in companies in aviation, wireless, technology, logistics, distribution, maintenance, repair and overhaul, consumer goods, education, pharmaceutical, beverage and chemical industries. Subrahmanyam serves as Vice President of Global Engineering for Ingram Micro Inc. (NYSE: IM). In this role, he has global responsibility for facilities, engineering, quality, continuous improvement, program management, sustainability and environmental health and safety. Prior to this role, he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for BrightPoint Americas, a business unit of BrightPoint (NASDAQ:CELL) based in Indianapolis, Indiana. In this role, he led the supply chain operations, quality, procurement and information technology functions. Subrahmanyam was previously co-founder and Principal at Orchard Group, a consulting firm focused on business performance improvement and execution of business improvement initiatives. Subrahmanyam led the supply chain, strategic sourcing and process improvement practices at Orchard Group.

Subrahmanyam was Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ:CECO), a $2B education company based in Hoffman Estates, IL, from 2008 to 2011. He led the transformation of the procurement function to a center-led organization, setting up the strategic sourcing and supply chain functions to deliver sustained value for the organization. He was in charge of optimizing the company’s mostly indirect spend of $1B in the areas of technology, marketing, facilities, direct supply, services and staffing. He was also responsible for the P&L of CEC’s supply chain business unit and improved the indirect cost by over 20% through outsourcing, integration synergies, process efficiencies and organizational transformation. As Vice President of Continuous Improvement and Business Transformation for United Airlines (NYSE:UAL) from 2006-2008, he led United's overall continuous improvement efforts, focusing on its service to customers, revenue performance and operating efficiencies.

Subrahmanyam holds a doctorate in chemical engineering from Purdue University and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, India.

Title: Enabling Right-Shoring Strategies in the Wireless Industry

Ingram Micro Mobility (formerly BrightPoint) is a global leader in providing device lifecycle solutions in the wireless/mobility industry. With a global presence, Ingram Micro Mobility provides an expansive footprint for global manufacturers and carriers alike. In 2012, the company managed over 100M devices across the globe. In the US, Ingram Micro Mobility has helped customers rethink their supply chain strategy, working to enable our partners get closer to their customers, improve customer experience through better customization capabilities and increased responsiveness, and optimize their cost footprint through postponement strategies. In this talk, specific cases are examined where Ingram Micro Mobility has partnered with customers to develop right-shoring options, formulate strategies to improve cost structures and increase customer satisfaction, and execute the joint strategies.