Global President Arima shares his New Year message with associates in a single Kanji: “Katsu”. President Arima explains three meanings behind the word:
This is his hope for DENSO and our associates in 2021!
There is no such thing as a perfectly safe environment, but what you can do is reduce the risk as much as possible – Andris Staltmanis, Business Lead of DENSO’s Thermal Systems group shares how we mitigate risks to help create a safe working environment. #DENSOSafetyFirst
We appreciate all of our associates and everything they are doing for their families, community and DENSO. Watch this video to hear personal messages of gratitude from our leadership.
It’s your courage, giving spirit and enthusiasm that make DENSO strong.
Let’s continue to dream big, come together, and appreciate one another.
The first female CEO of a major global automaker was appointed just five years ago. In Silicon Valley, 95% of the tech workforce is white males. Fifty-four percent of employees believe their employers could do more to promote gender equality.
Diversity and inclusion are issues that permeate all industries, not just automotive. At DENSO, we are taking active steps to change that narrative.
That’s why today, we are thrilled to announce we have named Denise Carlson, vice president, North American Production Innovation Center and Safety, Health and Environment, as Executive Lead of North American Diversity and Inclusion (D&I). Carlson, who was one of the first female engineers hired at DENSO, has been a part of DENSO for nearly 25 years.
We spoke to Denise on her new role and how D&I will help us reach long-term goals and shape the future of mobility.
Why is diversity and inclusion important?
First and foremost, accepting and respecting people of all races, ages, genders, ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures is the right thing to do.
Second, embracing D&I is one of the best ways to spark innovation. When we bring together diverse groups of people, it opens our eyes to the fact that there is always more than one way to achieve the same goal. Diverse groups offer unique perspectives to difficult challenges, break the cycle of inside-the-box thinking and bring great new ideas and opportunities to the table, which is critical for a company wanting to innovate.
This is particularly important for DENSO. We’re undergoing tremendous change – from a shift in business strategy to a focus on software-based solutions. Constant innovation is crucial if we want to remain competitive and best serve our customers.
What are you most excited about in your new role?
To start, I want to say that creating this position is a significant and symbolic moment at DENSO and I’m honored to be a part of it. Yes, we have D&I efforts already in place, but this shows the world we have a stake in the ground to truly progress in this area.
I am looking forward to working closely with our manufacturing facilities across North America to align on what D&I is, our goals and why it needs to be an integral part of daily functions. My hope to eventually create a work environment where diversity and inclusion is no longer a topic of discussion – because it’s engrained in the way we do business.
What does DENSO currently do for its D&I efforts?
In 2016, DENSO established the North American D&I Council to develop a three-year strategy to create and implement a culture of inclusion that promotes the diversity of all associates. We currently have D&I training for leaders at every level to strengthen understanding of D&I. At DENSO, our leaders are the champions behind this effort. They are committed to fostering an inclusive and diverse environment.
Other action items include:
Finally, it’s important to point out that diversity and inclusion are two separate things. Diversity is the collection of our similarities and differences based on characteristics that we are born with, experiences we have had and choices we have made. Inclusion occurs when people are welcomed, valued, respected and heard.
There’s more to do to be sure, and I look forward to working with associates around the country to lead that charge.
To read the press release announcing Denise’s new role at DENSO, click here.
Amy Brock has been using her talents and bringing her passion for partnerships to the various roles she has held at DENSO over the past 25 years. From Purchasing to General Administration, and now in her current role as Advanced Specialist of Community Relations at DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, she’s focused on building and strengthening relationships with internal and external customers to help DENSO grow.
“It’s important for me to build relationships with our associates and in our community. I want to strengthen and support the area where we live. As the area’s largest employer in Blount County, we have a responsibility to support and give back to our community.
I remember for the 204 plant grand opening event in 2018, we invited many community partners, government and business leaders, and associates to join us. It took a lot of time and coordination, working with different groups within DENSO, coordinating schedules, and making sure everyone was aligned. When you’re caught up in that day-to-day, it can be challenging. But, I remember, at the event, looking around and seeing more than 800 people gather for the same purpose. It was so powerful and inspiring. We came together and worked toward a common goal to build and celebrate this place that positively impacts so many lives.
As the industry changes, as DENSO changes, we need to realize we’re in this as one DENSO. We’re going through tremendous change and need to collaborate with one another. When we run into a challenge, we can face it together and reach a common solution that benefits our associates, our company and our community.”
As the world’s second largest mobility supplier, a global champion of R&D and an industry leader in sustainability, DENSO’s goals are as diverse as its operations. A few years ago, leadership recognized the need to clearly articulate the company’s goals and tactics resulting in the long-term policy 2030 and long-term plan 2025. David Williams, a six-year DENSO employee who has served in a number of different positions related to strategy and business planning had a critical role in developing this global plan and the corresponding sales roadmap. The big picture outlook required for this type of work directly inspired his core value: Vision.
“A successful leader needs vision more than anything else, as he/she is the ultimate keeper of the dream, the one making the rally cry for everyone to get behind,” said Williams. “However, setting the vision is only step one. A leader’s integrity is measured by how closely they actually follow their own vision while adhering to the values of the organization.”
Williams now showcases his commitment to vision daily in his current role as Director, Automotive Original Equipment Service Group, DPAM. He recently worked with a group of associates to show them how their business development role fit into the larger company ecosystem. This empowering process led the group to feel confident and encouraged to try something different. With a clear goal and plan in mind, the group went out and secured a great remanufacturing client win.
“If you keep the vision a living, breathing part of your work, people will better understand how it relates to them and vice versa, leading to increased engagement and satisfaction.”
In the wake of Global President Arima’s New Year message, our teams are left pondering next steps, what we need to do to contribute to DENSO’s transformation. Chris Ramsey, senior manager of Business Planning at DENSO’s Maryville, Tenn., facility, is no different. But, at his core, he believes faith and courage are what he, and DENSO, needs to move forward.
Starting his career at DENSO more than 20 years ago and working his way up through Cost Accounting and Business Planning, Chris has seen a thing or two. And still, he says, “I believe in the future. I have faith in DENSO, and the people of this company, that we’re going to make a better future for the world.”
Chris shares this perspective having experienced tough times during his DENSO career:
“In 2009, when all was looking bleak from a business point of view, [DENSO] found a way to overcome. We found a way to keep our people employed, and found a new way for us to operate. We re-evaluated our operations, processes – everything. We became more competitive and stronger. Our people learned about themselves and what is really, truly possible.
“This is only one example that shows our associates are in it for the long haul – it’s not just a job at DENSO, it’s a way of life. There are a lot of different ways to make more money, but I don’t think that’s why people work here. We’re working for the people we’re with. We’re always pushing one another to find new ways to overcome challenges.”
For Chris, “faith” and “courage” go hand-in-hand.
“Courage means the courage to change, to be different, and to know when it’s time to be different and change. I believe we should question everything and not only do something because someone says we need to. Be true to your values and trust (have faith) in your potential. You have to be yourself.”
In 2015, executives asked a group of senior leaders at DENSO’s Maryville facility, including Chris, how they could improve their targets in quality, safety, cost, and delivery. Usually, a request like this is followed by a quick meeting, hurried action plan, assignments, due dates, follow-up meetings, and so on. Chris and other senior leaders decided to take a stand and put a stop to that routine. They wanted to truly dig into the core issues behind their targets.
After several discussions, the team concluded it was their mindset, their way of working, that caused them to fall short of their targets. Everyone worked in a silo. Each function was working toward their own goals, not trying to understand how they impacted other functions. It was a tough truth to face.
The team tackled it head-on. Through several discussions, off-site workshops and meetings, the group was able to break down barriers between functions and leaders. Chris recalled, “It wasn’t always comfortable, and it sure wasn’t easy, but, after 25 years of operation, Maryville’s leaders, from all our different areas, were starting to think and work more closely together.”
“Mr. Arima described this time as the second birth of our company. There are many ways to feel about that, most are probably scared or excited. We have lots of things to be concerned about – huge shifts in the mobility market, consumer habits, new competitors, and more. I believe faith is necessary because faith in this sense means we must believe in our potential. It’s not an option for us to move forward without faith in ourselves and each other. If our future is to be, it’s up to us to make it happen, and I have faith that we will all do what’s necessary to achieve our future potential.
“To make the future happen not only takes faith, but also courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what’s needed in spite of it. If we don’t have a sense of fear or crisis then we are not being realistic. However, we cannot be lead or paralyzed by it. We must press on. Find new paths, fail fast and learn fast. The future of DENSO depends on how fast we can fail and learn and our courage to keep doing both.”
DENSO is committed to a culture where every associate’s diverse talents and strong passion enable us to contribute to a better world. What’s at your core? What are you passionate about? What drives and motivates you? We want to hear from you.
Jack Helmboldt wears many hats. He is the president of DENSO Manufacturing Tennessee, overseeing our mobility systems and manufacturing businesses in North America, and sits on the board of DENSO International America and on the executive committee in Japan. But ask Jack about his most important role, and you might be surprised by his response. Recently, Jack traded his sports coat for steel-toed boots, so he could spend more time on the plant floor meeting and mentoring associates.
Why did you decide to spend more time in the plant than on a plane?
I was finding that my message about what we need to accomplish to be successful as a business, wasn’t making it to the floor. Or, by the time it did, it was jumbled. I’ve been talking to associates and asking them questions like, does your boss tell you what to do? Do they tell you why it’s important? Do they tell you how to accomplish it? Good leaders should give clear direction, but at the same time, we want our associates to take personal responsibility of what they want to do or try to do in their careers.
What’s the best way to advance your career?
Understanding engagement and ownership. I tell my management team that they can ask for my help on anything and in any situation, and I will tell them exactly what I would do. No one should be afraid to ask questions. But, the best way to learn is by taking ownership and working out a problem by yourself. You and I can reach the same conclusion in two totally different ways.
How do you take ownership at such a large company like DENSO?
Move away from what I call the “silo mentality.” We’re all in this together. If your line is working properly, but your colleague’s isn’t, that’s your problem too. We need to work across lines to ensure everything is running smoothly on a regular basis. Taking a step back to see the bigger picture opens the door to more opportunities.
What makes a good leader?
Be an innovator. This doesn’t mean you need to be creative. It means you act to make us better. You see and seek out opportunities for improvement. You learn from people, from other plants, or other countries and you add those skills to your toolbox, which is critical as the auto industry undergoes massive changes.
Be a motivator. People around you should see you as being honest, credible, confident and a good listener. Take the time to talk to people, develop trust, and share information that can help them be better.
Be a visionary. This isn’t a goal or objective; it’s envisioning an ideal situation for the business and the company. My vision is that everyone who works here is happy and wants their kids and grandkids to work here someday. It will take time, and I’m setting milestones to realize that vision.
Finally, be a good teacher. I’m proud to be the president of DMTN, but that’s not how I want to be remembered. I want people to remember me as a good mentor or coach who recognized and cultivated talent, gave them opportunities to succeed, and helped them establish good habits and modify bad ones.
Anything else to add?
Be appreciative of good work. If someone goes above and beyond, take the time to thank them. I have a stack of cards on my desk, and I’m constantly sending them out because I see our associates doing such great things.
Bill Foy, senior vice president of Engineering at DENSO, and Tony Cannestra, director of Corporate Ventures, talk about why venture capital is an important, strategic move for DENSO.
Not only does investing in entrepreneurs and startups allow us to strengthen and grow our core automotive business, it allows us to branch out into new, emerging technology and non-automotive business areas. It also pushes DENSO to think differently.
Learn more from Bill and Tony in the video below:
By 2050, our population will reach an estimated 9 billion. At that rate, the amount of CO2 and human waste is predicted to rise to 4 times the Earth’s natural ability to self-clean. Earth will become uninhabitable.
DENSO is committed to improving Earth’s health. EcoVision 2025 is our 10-year environmental policy and action plan to help resolve environmental and energy issues and conduct business in harmony with nature.
Bob Townsend, DENSO’s vice president of External Affairs, shares more about our vision to help preserve our planet.
Why did DENSO create EcoVision 2025?
Concern for our environment is not new. DENSO originated in rural Japan, and it was there we learned important lessons about our environmental impact. Early in the company, we accidentally released drainage into farmland, destroying crops. After that, we made a commitment that such an accident would never happen again.
We launched the first EcoVision policy in 1997, so this initiative has been in place for more than 20 years.
How does DENSO’s plan help create sustainable communities?
As a member of the automotive industry, we have two potentially negative impacts on society. Traffic accidents, and a lot of our efforts are focused on improving safety, and the environment. As a company, we want to reduce that impact on the planet.
To achieve this, our products, factories, associates and management all play a critical role in our 10-step action plan, which targets three primary areas: Energy, Clean and Green.
What are the main objectives for EcoVision 2050?
The 10-step action plan is designed to help us achieve three primary objectives:
How will we make our products cleaner?
Within product development, DENSO will contribute to reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles through the development of new technologies and products that improve fuel consumption and are compatible with a variety of fuels. As we develop new product lines, we’ll develop smaller and more efficient equipment to shrink our impact.
How can we make our plants greener?
We will promote reductions in waste and resource usage within logistics and at factories. One thing to keep in mind – if your plant is doing something successful, share it! We can learn from each other.
For example, our plant in Tennessee uses a small ice machine on-site to make ice at night. In the morning, the ice is used to cool equipment, reducing hazardous waste and overall energy use. And in Guelph, our factory recently replaced all its florescent lights with LED equivalents, generating 240 tons in CO2 savings.
How can associates make an impact?
We try to raise environmental awareness among our employees and their communities. We’ve been organizing events that promote improved employee awareness and engagement. Environmental education is critical to ensure that we’re all engaging in activities that preserve the environment and create sustainable societies.
At DENSO Manufacturing Athens Tennessee, we established a community EcoPark. The 11.5 acres draws local students and families to relax and enjoy nature, and provides opportunities to learn about recycling, composting, pollution prevention and much more.
In addition, I would encourage all our associates to consider low-carbon transportation, educate themselves about how to be more consciousness about the choices that impact the Earth, and volunteer their time toward environmental protection activities.
Anything else to add?
I love talking about EcoVision. It’s part of who we are, it’s the right thing to do, it shows our associates and future workers how we’re contributing to the environment and society overall. Transportation and mobility is changing quickly, and so are people’s expectations of the companies they work for and partner with. DENSO plans to stay at the forefront of both.
This month, more than 200 leaders from across the globe headed to DENSO’s global headquarters in Japan for the annual Global Leadership Conference. Leaders showcased new activities in their regions, discussed challenges, and talked opportunities as we all work toward our global long-term 2030 vision, and 2025 goals.
Click on the video below to hear Kara Grasso, vice president of Sales in Southfield, Mich., share an overview of the topics and themes from this year’s global conference, including what North America presented.
For North America, Bill Foy, senior vice president of Engineering, presented on the importance of our role globally for DENSO, and our plans to strengthen regional management. The automotive industry is shifting to focus more on electrification, connected and autonomous technologies. This shift is being led mainly in the North America region, which is why DENSO in North America is in a position to play a bigger role in these areas for DENSO globally.
At DENSO, we’re committed to our communities. We’re dedicated to protecting lives, preserving the planet and preparing a bright future for generations to come.
For the last several years, DENSO Manufacturing Canada has supported KidsAbility, an organization that provides children with disabilities and medical complexities access to the support and services they need to reach their full potential. Here’s a few ways DMCN is making a difference in the lives of young children with special needs in Waterloo Region and Guelph-Wellington:
DMCN President Rich van Oorschot shared this about their support of KidsAbility:
“KidsAbility has made a tremendous impact in the lives of children and youth in the Guelph Community. Our gift to their capital project, to bring two KidsAbility Guelph locations together, ensures that all kids with disabilities and medical complexities in Guelph have access to the supports and services that they need. KidsAbility is a unique place that gives local children a stronger future. By giving back, we are making our community better, which is part of the DENSO culture. This is an important aspiration for our Company and our Associates.”
Denise Carlson is DENSO’s vice president of North American Production Innovation Center Planning and Material Engineering. When Denise joined our team as a material engineer in 1995, she was one of only a few women in her field. While the number of women in technical professions has since grown, she understands that there’s still much to be done to attract young women to STEM education and careers.
“It’s imperative to recognize the opportunities we have to inspire young girls and women to thrive in fields so important to our future,” said Denise. “STEM skills are essential for the future of America’s workforce and a gateway to growth opportunities. For the good of our companies, industries and society, we must find better ways to get more children involved earlier.”
To help get these children introduced to STEM topics, particularly girls, Denise mentors a student team for FIRST Robotics, an organization that gives student’s hands-on technical experience in a competitive and fun way.
“We’ve seen our female student ratio grow from 2/11 to 11/36,” said Denise. “While many girls join to work on the business facet of the team, we encourage them to explore the mechanical, electrical and programming aspects as well. They never cease to amaze me with their energy and enthusiasm to learn.”
A message from Don Tracy, vice president, North America Production Innovation Center (Maryville, Tenn.)
Safety’s at the core of DENSO’s manufacturing process. From initial product design, we make sure our products are safe for our associates to build. This is why I joined DENSO 30 years ago. Back then, a family friend of mine gave me a call and told me that I had to go work for a company called Nippondenso, now DENSO. After the call, I started doing some research. I read about the Nippondenso core values and saw how much importance was placed on safety and quality. This convinced me to submit an application and accept an interview. During my interview, the hiring manager told me that their management style was “all for one and one for all.” I knew right then and there that people came first at Nippondenso, which sealed the deal.
My core is building trust and a growth mindset
This is how I feel building trust and a growth mindset are key to safety: We can all play a role in workplace safety by watching out for the safety of our co-workers. Think of it this way, if you’re working with three coworkers and trust that each of you are looking out for one another, your work environment becomes that much safer.
Also, without a safe work environment, we can’t possibly perform our best to create quality products. This is why we need to keep a growth mindset when it comes to safety. When we strive to improve safety, the quality of our products can improve. This is why safety always comes first before quality, cost and delivery.