Dan Sweeney has seen it all. For almost 30 years, he’s been with DENSO through the good – exciting new products and technologies, countless growth opportunities – and the bad – business downturns, a global pandemic. But through it all, Dan has been a committed, hard-working associate who values his colleagues and takes the initiative to make a difference in his career, at DENSO and the world.
Before we bid a fond farewell to Dan – and he begins his international travels with his wife – we wanted to share his DENSO story.
Dan has worked in DENSO’s powertrain division for 29 years. This division is responsible for designing, manufacturing, and applying best-in-class components for engines and transmissions to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Dan started in gasoline fuel system products and with the help of training, mentors and DENSO Spirit, became an engineering director over aftertreatment, ignition, electronic sensors, and electronic engine controllers.
During his time at our company, DENSO Spirit has guided Dan’s career. According to Dan, “DENSO leaders encouraged me to anticipate customer needs so our products can bring value. Foresight is required to sustain the healthy future of any company. I have always been inspired by Satoshi Watanabe, one of DENSO’s first Tech Center leaders, who spoke about the importance of always helping and putting the customer first. This approach creates a foundation for open discussion and collaboration. And regarding credibility, it is essential to do what you say. Positive results will be respected within DENSO and within industry.”
Not many people stay at the same company for 29 years (though we do have quite a few at DENSO!). When asked why he stayed, Dan said, “DENSO values its people. This was evident during the business downturn in 2008, and during the recent pandemic. DENSO maintained its commitment to us, and continues to build people through training, challenging assignments, and accountability.”
Dan has seen a lot of change over the years, but one constant is DENSO’s drive to be on the leading edge of technology. In Dan’s time, DENSO has implemented direct fuel injection, wide-range feedback control, and several other engine technologies to better serve customers as mobility has drastically evolved. Dan has also seen DENSO’s engineering team grow significantly – from 150 people in Southfield to over 1,000.
Of his many accomplishments, Dan shared he is most proud of his “collaboration with North American OEMs and DENSO Japan to develop and implement exhaust technologies that significantly reduced exhaust emissions” as well as his role in supporting the growth of several local colleagues.
“Dan has been a driving force at DENSO for a long time, shaping the North American powertrain landscape with his vision, quality-mindset, and drive to elevate everyone around him,” said Andy Rumptz, in DENSO’S powertrain and electrification division. “He will be truly missed, and we wish him well in retirement.”
For his parting words, Dan had this to share – “Our top management has requested that we re-establish our foundation of high quality. I encourage all to take advantage of this time to improve our quality and reinforce DENSO’s credibility with all our customers across North America.”
Dan – thank you for your hard work and congratulations on your retirement. You deserve it!
We are so grateful for the people who make careers for themselves at DENSO. These individuals repeatedly show the values key to DENSO Spirit — foresight, credibility and collaboration — and continually strive to make DENSO a great place to work, all while delivering exemplary service to our customers and communities.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to some of DENSO’s longest-serving associates. They’ll share what drew them to DENSO and more importantly, why they’ve stayed.
Meet Dwayne Taylor. Dwayne first joined DENSO’s Southfield, Mich. location back in 1986!
Dwayne says he was initially attracted to DENSO because the products we were creating looked advanced and interesting. When he first started, we were sharing office space with a drive-thru bank! That’s hard to believe when you think about the size of our campus now. Our Technical Center building in Southfield was completed a few months after Dwayne joined and we moved operations there.
Dwayne also says that DENSO’s commitment to quality, advanced technology, and its associates are what’s made him stay all these years. He says over the years while the methods have changed, the company has grown both locally and globally, and the industry has adapted to the changing market, DENSO’s commitment to these areas has remained strong.
One of Dwayne’s favorite memories from his time at DENSO was the opportunity to work as an expat in Japan. Living and working in Japan gave him and his family a whole new appreciation for what life is like in and outside of Japan and it’s an experience they really enjoyed and will never forget.
For prospective DENSO associates, Dwayne advises to always put forth your best effort, take advantage of opportunities to learn, and recognize that DENSO strives to offer the best in every sense of the word. He also notes that DENSO is a strong and stable global company and opportunities exist to gain experience abroad – plus it’s a great team to be a part of!
If you’re interested in a lifelong career shaping the future of mobility, check out our open positions here: https://densocareers.com/
DENSO is letting our example shine by turning up the lights and turning down our energy usage! In December, DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. (DMMI) received a $377,737 rebate from Consumers Energy through their Business Energy Efficiency Program.
DMMI is one of the top 10 highest energy users for Consumers Energy in the State of Michigan due to the requirements of our compressed air systems and industrial brazing furnaces. This means we must continuously look for ways to save energy to reduce our environmental impact and save money. In recent years, multiple lighting and energy saving projects have been implemented in the parking lot and boiler areas. This latest rebate was for full plant lighting replacement and advanced controls such as those used for controlling light activation on motion sensors in the scrap dock area.
Induction lights throughout the plant were replaced with LED lights featuring wireless control capabilities. The plant is now much, much brighter, with LED lights that can produce more than three times brighter light while using less energy. In addition, the Facilities department maintains a computerized system that controls the lights within an overall Facilities Management System.
The cost and environmental impact is tremendous—280 tons of CO2 emissions per year are saved from the project, and the amount of energy saved is equivalent to the annual electricity usage of 144 homes.
The monetary return from the project exceeded our expectations by over $90,000. The rebate will allow the Facilities department to help offset utility expenses from 2019 fiscal year.
Associates can play a key role in making improvements by looking for energy waste in their own areas. If you see an area for improvement or have an idea, please speak up!
The highest honor a Ph.D. candidate can receive at Western Michigan University is the All-University Excellence Award. Nagdev Amruthnath, Data Scientist III in the Internet of Things (IoT) department at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, received this award when he graduated with his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering this spring.
The University does not make this decision lightly, Nagdev said. After being unanimously nominated by his department, Nagdev began a month-long process, sharing everything from his resume to research papers and publications for consideration.
“This is just a stepping stone for the things I want to achieve and contribute to science and betterment of the society,” Nagdev said.
Nagdev started working at DENSO as a summer intern in 2014 while he pursued his masters and then doctorate degrees at WMU. He spent more than three years in Total Industrial Engineering (TIE) before being hired as DENSO’s first data scientist in Battle Creek.
“When I started at DENSO, I had no idea if I was going to stay here long-term,” Nagdev said. “But everything fell into place. I was looking for a new job in data science and big data outside of DENSO when I learned they were looking for someone to fill a role that lined up with my research and passion.”
As an intern, Nagdev observed how often machines would need to stop for repairs, slowing down production, increasing associate overtime and causing the production line to miss their performance goals. This is when he decided to focus his research on preventative maintenance, recognizing the potential to help associates and increase profitability.
Combining his real-world experience and doctoral research was very successful; Nagdev has published 10 papers and will be receiving a patent. A lot of his research ideas were inspired by the projects and people he works with at DENSO.
“Everything, every day is challenging, especially in my role,” Nagdev said. “I get a lot of opportunity to explore new things and people are open to new suggestions and projects and I want to help them.”
Nagdev said his next educational goal is to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration. But first, Nagdev is celebrating a major milestone outside the classroom, being newly married this summer.
“I always say nothing is impossible as long as you are willing to put time and resources towards it. That’s what I tell people when starting a new project, nothing is impossible.”
The next CoA (common, compact, collaborative) HVAC line started production at DENSO’s manufacturing facility in Battle Creek on July 22. Although it is the second CoA line, associates throughout the region made sure it is a project filled with firsts.
“The goal for this project was localization, and it was a huge development opportunity,” said Mike Curbey, HVAC Engineering Manager. “This is the first CoA line in the world to be built 100% locally.”
CoA2 is also the first HVAC line with IoT (Internet of Things) connectivity and the first line at DENSO in Battle Creek with a collaborative robot.
Senior Engineering Technician Eric Paulson said that the team at DENSO in Battle Creek worked closely with machine builders at DENSO in Maryville, Tennessee on the localization effort.
“One of our biggest challenges was helping the machine builders understand our needs exactly,” Eric said. “We were starting with something originally designed in Japan and asking the DENSO Tennessee team to build it to the specifications of our local needs in Michigan. We just had to figure all of that out.”
The new line will produce HVACs for three Subaru models produced in the United States. Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) has already recognized the line as a world-class process.
Congratulations to everyone that made the HVAC Auto Line 2 a reality over the last two years. This is a big step towards DENSO’s future!
Through 24 years of service at DENSO in Battle Creek, Machine Technician Art Fields has never called in sick. Yes! 24 years of being at work on time, every day that he is scheduled.
“My dad helped instill my work ethic. If you want something, you need to work hard for it and take pride in the work you do,” Art said.
After starting as a temporary, Art was hired in as an associate in the same area that he works in today, building radiators for automotive engine cooling modules. As a production associate, he enjoyed opportunities to work on machines and problem solve with the Machine Technician in his area. This inspired him to become one, a job he’s held since 1998.
Working at DENSO means Art has worked with people from a lot of different cultures, one of his favorite things about the company. Regardless of background, though, Art said his coworkers are always polite and willing to help.
Art enjoys participating in company-sponsored events such as golf outings, bass tournaments, company picnics and sports outings. Outside of work, Art keeps himself busy with his hobbies and activities with his family. He fishes with the Battle Creek Bass Busters every Saturday during the season and plays disc golf multiple times a week to stay active.
Art said he has witnessed a lot of growth and change at DENSO during more than two decades in Battle Creek.
“When I first started I saw how clean the place was and how they cared about their people. I knew it was a long-term company that wouldn’t be going anywhere, so I wanted to be hired in.”
“It’s been a good feeling watching DENSO grow – I’ve seen it expand and add on at least 5 times. My goal is to retire here.”
Congratulations Art, and thank you for your dedication!
Know an associate with an interesting story to tell or milestone to celebrate? Email DMMI_Communications@denso-diam.com.
Jeremy Shirey – Estimated completion: July 2019
Jeremy enjoyed being part of a team and resolving a variety of challenging tasks in his Machine Finishing rotation. He is thankful for all the talented individuals who have helped him throughout the program, and believes DENSO is fortunate to have so many skilled journeymen!
When he’s not at DENSO Jeremy loves spending as much time as he can with his wife and their new puppy.
Andrew Fry – Completed April 2019
Andy is thankful for everyone who helped him grow his skill set, as well as his wife who supported him and accommodated to his changing schedule during the program. His favorite part of the Apprenticeship Program was Machine Finishing.
When he’s not working, Andy spends as much time as he can on the lake with his family.
Shane O’Neil – Completed March 2019
Throughout the program he enjoyed rotating through the different groups which allowed him to meet and work with all the journeymen, and learn multiple repair techniques. Shane is thankful for Paul Phillips who helped him launch a new mod machine C-1211 during the program.
Outside of DENSO Shane enjoys fishing and riding dirt bikes with his two children, and looks forward to taking his family on camping trips.
Richard Saylor – Completed February 2019
Richard appreciates the numerous people in each department that helped him learn important skills so he can succeed in his job. His favorite part was being rotated through the different areas allowing him to gain a variety of experience.
Something not everyone knows about Richard is that he started working on cars when he was only 13 years old!
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.
DENSO Manufacturing Michigan, Inc. associates have donated 2,726 pounds of food and 118 hours to the Food Bank of South Central Michigan over the past twelve months. Recently, 18 associates spent the afternoon assembling weekend school packs for kids as a part of DENSO’s work-time volunteer program.
In this program, each associate can volunteer eight hours of paid time each year through company-sponsored events. From sorting donations and stuffing envelopes to assembling food bags, DENSO associates are empowered to give back to the community.
Thank you to our work-time volunteers!
In 2018, 28 associates reached the 25-years of service milestone. Roughly 45 people gathered to celebrate these honorees at the Quarter Century Club Dinner on Thursday, January 24. Thank you for choosing to make your career at DENSO. Congratulations!