From Seymour, IN — 04/05/2010
Pay..In Engineering, slightly better than most jobs in the area, but you give a lot of free hours. I don't expect that it is out of line with any salaried position in the area.
Respect.. A lot of respect from my supervisor and the other Engineers. Once you go up a level, the respect does tend to get a little lower now. This is a recent change that is related to the fact that our new Director of Engineering is from Valeo France, our new President is from Valeo Europe Engine Cooling Division (little or no lighting experience) , our interim Director of Programs is from Marketing, and our new CFO is younger than my 20 year old (ok...just looks younger). The recent top management changes affect other aspects of the job that I will get into later.
Benefits..comparable to most factories in the area. We do still have retirement AND 50% match on 401K to 6%!!!!:)
Job Security .. Ahhh...the meat of the issue.. It appears to me that Valeo has embarked on a clever scheme to pull profits from the joint venture with Osram. I understand that we needed to get reduce staff during the slowdown. The interesting thing is that the management changes happened during and after our slowdown and the new Valeo-led direction is to source most of the design back to Valeo, source most of the injection mold tooling through the Valeo tool source committee, and use temp workers for most of the Engineering that must be done in Seymour. Valeo charges a premium for any work performed for the JV, soaking out profits. If the JV shows break even or a loss over a period of time, than Osram's share of the JV can be purchased at a bargain. This will also allow Valeo France to retain resources in a tough market, protecting the home turf. Notice also that almost everything new is headed to Mexico, which appears to have much closer ties to Valeo France than Seymour. My prediction is that we will continue to cut back in Seymour, stay close to break even or stay in the red some, and continue to move assets and programs to Mexico so "we can stay competitive". Within three years (Joe's contract term), we may see manufacturing eliminated at Seymour. Engineering will exist a little longer to train Mexico how to operate if Valeo France does not step in to perform that duty. Joe will have a double coup by getting the labor rate down for North America about the same time that Valeo buys out Osram. The Osram kid CFO is left wondering what the hell happened while Joe climbs higher in the Valeo org chart. Our Director of Engineering steps up right with him. Now I could be wrong about all of this. However, if I were high enough on the Valeo corporate ladder, that is a plan that I would consider. I actually admire what I see going on...it appears to be very coordinated and optimizes the fears of the current automotive market. For now, I hope the market recovers enough that it makes sense to keep Seymour around. All it takes is a few ticks in market share and someone in a "bored" meeting to say.."hey, let's keep Seymour". And you better believe that all of our jobs hang on something as simple as a comment one way or another at the highest levels of a company the size of Valeo. IT MAKES SENSE FROM A FINANCIAL STANDPOINT TO DO ALL THE ENGINEERING IN CHINA AND EUROPE AND ALL NA PRODUCTION IN MEXICO. And while some of the management in our plant may or may not care about you, Valeo Europe cares about itself much more than you and needs to protect itself right now. That is just good business for them.
Work/Life Balance .. For me personally, better than most other jobs that I've had.
Career Growth .. Very poor in Seymour, Excellent if you are willing to relocate. Trust me on this, some areas of Valeo Engineering are very weak compared to Seymour. I've seen their struggles with optics, thermal validations, and simple design guidelines. They are NOT very good in some areas. This means that they WILL jump on the chance to keep some of us. It seems that they had the same strategy that Christophe brought....use contractors and suppliers for expertise. They seem to buy into the theory that if you set enough procedures in place, than someone straight from college can do it. ASK Toyota how using procedures, contractors, and suppliers have worked out.
Location is good for me.
Co-worker Competence....hard to judge anymore since there have been so many changes. Still some very intelligent people there working their tails off trying to hope for the best.
Work Environment...... I absolutely loved it until mid-year 2009. I believed that this would be the job that I would retire from. Not sure anymore just because I'm not sure the place will still be open. All that said, I will probably be one of the people riding the ship down if it happens and bailing all the way because I do really like it there and also because I don't think it is fair to say that Valeo Sylvania is going through anything different than any other company right now other than the JV politics. They are interesting to watch and we shall see how that plays out.