WITH KEN GEMBEL
Cosworth will be showcasing its state-of-the-art powertrain solutions at the popular Engine Expo event in Michigan this week. Located less than one hour from the company’s recently inaugurated North American Headquarters in Shelby Township, Engine Expo offers Cosworth the opportunity to showcase its ‘Car of the Future’ technologies to US audiences.
Alongside more than 90 exhibitors, we will be outlining our vision for powertrain solutions at the event. Commercial Director – Powertrain, Chris Willoughby, is presenting our leading insights into next generation automotive solutions, while the General Manager of our North American Headquarters, Ken Gembel, and the team will also be on hand to review the successful establishment of our new US facility.
Dedicated to serve customers in the US market, and reinforcing our credentials as a Tier One supplier to automotive manufacturers, the Shelby Township HQ opened for business back in June 2018 and already has an order book up to 2026.
We caught up with Ken Gembel on the eve of Engine Expo to explore the development and importance of our North American Headquarters to Cosworth’s internationally thriving business.
Why did Cosworth select Michigan as the home of its North American headquarters?
“In order to support the main automotive players, you really need to be operating in their backyard. Our new facility shows a much bigger commitment to North America, and allows us to build stronger personal relationships with manufacturers. GM, Ford and Chrysler are local, Toyota has a technical centre in Michigan, while VW has an office just ten minutes away.”
Why the need for such an impressive facility?
“The Cosworth brand is synonymous with excellence. To support the standards and expectation of the global company requires each person on the team to hold to these high expectations. This doesn’t stop with just our core functions of manufacturing and engineering. It needs to be applied to every aspect of the business to encompass into the culture of how we do business. It’s also required to attain the best talent to support not only the booked business we currently have but to help grow and extend the capabilities built over the past sixty years to better serve the North American market!”
How will you scale up the North American business?
“In our first phase of business, we’ll have 60 people operating out of our 60,000 square foot facility. This will increase to 130 within three years as Cosworth’s North America based design and development offering gets ramped up, following the successful example of the UK operations. The better I do my job, the more people and facilities we will need to support the North American market! We also have the benefit of extensive experience in serving numerous markets which include marine, motorcycle & electronics which are virtually untapped by the Cosworth brand in North America.”
How have you been involved in the vision of the North American side of the business?
“I joined Cosworth at the point when it was a bit beyond a dirt field! We had little more than a few ceiling structures and some walls. I was able to lay the foundation for the facility image to create the perception we want to have in the North American market. We’ve been hiring the best talent we could to make our brand successful. Now we have a highly motivated and energized team from an operational perspective though the commercial, sales and marketing side to help us showcase the brand to North America.”
In your view, what is Cosworth’s USP?
“What sets us apart is our focus to support manufacturers where they would typically struggle to handle premium production. Often their facilities will be geared towards ultra-high volumes, whereas our set-up is smaller, more intimate, and more flexible. We can supply the 6s quality standards and world class operational performance, if not exceeding the levels of expectation, while being competitive cost-wise.”
How will the North American headquarters link to the UK operation?
“Everything we are doing in the US draws on the established practices from the UK, which has a very strong foothold both there and across Europe. What we are trying to do in North America is to leverage sixty years of Cosworth heritage to serve the market locally. We will serve the US market with the same levels of professionalism and performance as in the UK.”
What is the future for Cosworth in North America?
“It’s an interesting time because there’s so much focus on the autonomous vehicle. We have extremely intelligent people working in these areas at Cosworth. Our growth in the North American market will enable us to build new relationships that, in turn, will help us to develop exciting new technology and keep us relevant in the industry. We have spent two years getting up to this point but this is just the start. We operate with the mentality of ‘if you stay ready, then you don’t need to get ready’ – and we are definitely ready.”