Avoiding othersâ€™ mistake
Itâ€™s hard to find a multinational supplier these days that isnâ€™t looking to buy more from China. Like the â€œforty-ninersâ€ who rushed to California after gold was discovered there in the mid-1800s, many suppliers rushed into sourcing from China. Many have been disappointed by the results. Rojas figures he can avoid their mistakes and meet Razelliâ€™s goal.
â€œWe can have a different speed, because of the companies that have already invested a lot,â€ say Rojas. â€œWe can avoid mistakes and wrong decisions.â€
Currently, Marelli sources between â‚¬20 million and â‚¬30 million worth of goods in China for export, says Rojas. It sources three main commodities — metallic and mechanical products, both single parts and subassemblies; plastic parts; and electronics such as printed circuit boards. It also plans to source tooling and machinery.
Marelli has four divisions: lighting, powertrain, exhaust, and electronic systems. All have plants in China.
Rojas has two tasks: he must localize production of components that Marelli imports for its domestic manufacturing operations. He must also grow the variety of components exported. Rojas wants to keep the number of suppliers Marelli uses in China to a minimum. So he is seeking local suppliers who can supply more than just one part for one project. He seeks suppliers who have international standards in both products and processes.
â€œWe are looking for suppliers that can become world class,â€ say Rojas. Being world-class includes having a clear growth strategy, he adds.
Rojas also wants suppliers who can do research and development, working with Marelliâ€™s worldwide r&d departments.
His task will not be easy, Rojas admits.
Marelli is â€œfar awayâ€ from finding suppliers with suitable research and development capabilities, especially where mechanical parts are concerned, says Rojas.
â€œMaybe we will find one in electronics,â€ he says.
Rojas, 41, is so busy that he has only found time to visit the gym at his apartment complex one time since he arrived in January. And he left his beloved motorcycle in Europe at a friendâ€™s house.
Long development process
It might be a long time before he rides it again. Finding a supplier is only the beginning of a long process. â€œThere is a lot of work to do on the supply base,â€ says Rojas.
Half of his purchasing team of about 45 people worldwide is devoted to supplier development, says Rojas. It can take three years for a domestic supplier in China to consistently match European quality levels, he says.
Supplier development can include changing a mindset, says Rojas.
One negative result of Chinaâ€™s fast pace is that companies donâ€™t always stick with a task — or a customer. Like gold rush fever, they prefer to constantly look for the newest fast-growth business.
Says Rojas: â€œWe have to change the mentality of the local suppliers in terms of long-term partnerships. They want to make money now. I want them to stick with one way of doing things.â€