Happy Holidays from MICHauto

In the past year, we have witnessed more tragedy and triumph than we could have ever imagined. Throughout my career in the automotive industry, I have never seen people and companies do what has been done in the last nine months. You looked out for your employees and colleagues, helped mobilize the “Arsenal of Health” to support front-line workers, and worked to provide a safe workplace when the wheels of the industry began to turn again. Together we worked to keep manufacturing open for our economy, for our communities, and for our people.

Our team at MICHauto has been with you every step of this journey. I am extremely proud of the work we have done. Throughout the last nine months, we have advocated to keep manufacturing open on behalf of the automotive industry. Most notably, we reached out to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on your behalf, urging for the reopening of manufacturing. As a direct result of MICHauto’s lobbying, the state allowed a critical ramp-up period for automotive suppliers to safely and productively restart the industry’s supply chain. Manufacturing reopened on May 11, 2020, and has stayed open since.

One of MICHauto’s goals has been to raise awareness of the impact the automotive and mobility industry has on our state’s economy. In the MI COVID-19 Priorities Poll released this week by the Detroit Regional Chamber, it was gratifying to learn one-third of Michiganders agree – manufacturing is the most important area of our economy to keep open.

On behalf of MICHauto, I want to say thank you. We are grateful for your partnership, support, and collaboration. It is a privilege to serve as the leading voice and advocate for Michigan’s automotive and mobility community. We value the opportunity to serve your organization and look forward to building a stronger future for our state’s signature industry.

As we reflect on what we have been through and the opportunities that lies ahead, stay safe and be well. On behalf of the MICHauto Team, I wish you, your families, and your colleagues all the best for this holiday season and the year ahead.


Best Regards,

Glenn Stevens Jr.

Executive Director, MICHauto;

Vice President, Automotive and Mobility Initiatives,

Detroit Regional Chamber

CEO Spotlight: Lisa Lunsford

Lisa Lunsford is the co-founder and CEO of Global Strategic Supply Solutions (GS3), a supply chain integrator providing metal-form manufacturing and light assembly services since 2010. In September, Lunsford was named Chair of the MICHauto Board of Directors. MICHauto had the opportunity to speak with Lunsford and hear more about her professional accomplishments, inspirations, and more.

What is your number one priority as CEO?

As the leader of my company, my number one priority is growth. However, our success hinges on a wide range of interconnected priorities, like managing risks associated with incoming opportunities; leveraging existing technologies while managing the adoption of new innovations; and investing in people who are integral to our continuing success.

What is an accomplishment you are most proud of personally or professionally?

I’m honored that I now have the opportunity to work with the MICHauto team as the Board Chair to collaborate, discuss, and act on strategies that will advance, sustain, and promote the automotive industry. Building a career working with the right people and processes to create successful solutions has prepared me for the challenges MICHauto will face going forward, bringing together people and ideas from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, and putting those assets to work in a way that brings out the best in our industry.

Who do you look up to for inspiration or mentorship?

Among the many voices of wisdom that have guided me over the years, I’m grateful that I can pick up the phone and talk through a tough situation with Jean Chamberlain, former executive director of the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce. Jean is a pioneer in Michigan politics, including her career working with the late L. Brooks Patterson, and serving as the first and only South Oakland Governmental Liaison. I admire her honesty and clarity, and I go to her when I need advice from someone who does not — and will not — sugarcoat the facts.

What would you tell young professionals about our automotive industry to keep them in Michigan?

Because the auto industry is in your backyard, you have the unique opportunity to experience each individual aspect of the automotive ecosystem up-close, from refining petrochemicals to mobility technology — all of the elements that touch our industry. Now, once you do that, I suggest that you go out and explore the world, absorbing the best lessons from wherever you can learn them, and then bring that knowledge and experience back to add to our region’s collective value, which will drive the industry forward.

What is your favorite car and why?

The 1970 Mach 1 Mustang. You never forget the first car you fall in love with, until you drive a Mach 1.

APMA 2020 Conference: Why Invest in Partnerships

For the first time in 68 years, the APMA Conference was held virtually Nov. 18-20 to focus on Canada’s renaissance in automotive. Much like neighboring Detroit, Canada is focusing on zero emissions by 2050 and working with OEMs and research partners to progress in the electric vehicle (EV) sector. Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association opened the three-day event by celebrating the recent commitments of Ford Motor Company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and General Motors Co. (GM) to grow the automotive ecosystem and focus on EVs. The 72 industry experts participating in the conference walked through the opportunities, threats, challenges, and aspirations of the sector.

Carolyn Sauer, senior director of MICHauto participated in a panel session, Why Invest in Partnerships, moderated by Matt Johnson, executive director of the Institute of Border Logistics and Security for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation along with four other industry experts. Based in the Windsor-Detroit channel, this panel explored the opportunities that could blossom from bi-national partnerships and investments. Especially in this new environment, the importance of investing in partners and sharing a connected approach allows for:

  • Building and growth of our research and talent pipeline.
  • Strengthening our trade and global competitiveness.
  • Connecting and growing our innovation assets.
  • Building a more inclusive and diverse ecosystem.

With more than 26% of North American light vehicle production being manufactured in the Great Lakes Region across Michigan and Canada, the sharing of resources in manufacturing and IT across our region has been prevalent. The pandemic has driven a trend towards localization, and this poses a significant opportunity for our region to lead the globe in new technology and EVs.

When it comes to emerging technology, many people think of Silicon Valley as a leader in forward thinking and new technology development. Asked how Michigan and Canada can work together to improve regions ranking, Hind Ourahou, senior mobility strategist for the City of Detroit’s Office of Mobility Innovation, says there is no comparison.

“Silicon Valley emerged as this IT and software powerhouse that immediately attracted young professionals with its new way of working and forward thinking. But Silicon Valley does not have the longstanding history and capability of making things. The only place in North America where you can overlay the circle of manufacturing and IT is right here. The Great Lakes region is really where it all comes together,” said Sauer.

Collectively, panelists agreed that more can be done to spread the word about our unique collaborations and opportunities in the region. We need to continue working together, not just to advance technology, but to promote our brand as an industry – high-tech, real, and thriving. Software developers, programmers, and data scientists are needed to make it work. There is something really special about Detroit’s partnership with Canada.

“We’re the real powerhouse that’s going to keep moving this forward.  We make an impact, we make the product, and we make the change,” said Sauer.