PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Joseph C. Day, chairman and chief executive officer of Freudenberg-NOK, announced that he has elected to take an early retirement in order to pursue his passion for teaching lean systems.
Day said he has been quietly considering retirement for months and that he leaves Freudenberg-NOK in good shape and in the hands of a capable management team.
In preparation for his retirement, Day said the company recently restructured its operations into two business sectors headed by veteran Freudenberg-NOK executives — automotive, which comprises the OEM sealing and anti-vibration businesses and is headed by sector CEO Richard E. Allen; and distributed products, which comprises the general industry sealing, automotive aftermarket and seal trading businesses and is directed by sector CEO Phillip Damaska.
Day, 57, has been CEO of the American joint venture between Freudenberg & Co. of Germany and NOK Corp. of Japan since its inception in 1989. During his tenure, Freudenberg-NOK enjoyed 13 consecutive years of profitable growth, grew its annual sales from $200 million to nearly $1 billion and maintained a strong balance sheet while many automotive suppliers struggled.
He is credited with establishing Freudenberg-NOK as a benchmark in the implementation of lean manufacturing systems, developing the company’s reputation as a "Technology Specialist" in sealing and vibration control and pioneering the company’s heralded Growtth® (Get Rid of Waste Through Team Harmony) lean systems program.
One of American industry’s leading proponents of lean systems, Day has given numerous speeches and has won numerous honors for his efforts in promoting the lean concept, including the Manufacturing Leadership Award from the Wu Foundation, membership in the Shingo Prize Academy and the Rubber Industry Executive of the Year.
An active leader in the auto industry and the local community, Day served as the founding chairman of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and has assisted several Detroit area charities in their fundraising efforts.