Douglas J. Grimm, Chairman, President and CEO, Grede Holdings LLC

Douglas GrimmWinner, Industrial Products

Douglas J. Grimm was stepping into a chaotic situation in 2008, but you wouldn’t have known it by his approach. He was leading a business that had just gone through bankruptcy and was in the process of merging with two other companies who were in the same dire situation. On top of that, the global recession was taking hold and it appeared to many as if the sky really was falling.

But Grimm didn’t see it that way. He calmly set about integrating Citation Corp. with Grede Foundries Inc. and Blackhawk Foundry to form a new company called Grede Holdings LLC. Grimm went to work lining up integration teams and scheduling town-hall meetings at each plant to communicate directly with all 2,900 employees who were going to be affected. There was no panic, even though the future did not look bright at all. New vehicle sales were plunging to 30-year lows and the manufacturer of gray and ductile iron castings desperately needed that to change.

But once again, Grimm was the calm in the storm. The chairman, president and CEO encouraged input from everyone and his goal was to identify best practices at every level of the organization. He talked to everybody on a regular basis and met with customers, too. Decisions would now be based on data and thoughtful dialogue and they would be tracked to make sure they were the right decisions. If they weren’t, they were analyzed to ensure that the same mistake wouldn’t be made again.

These steps got everyone moving in the same direction and created a company that was both efficient and productive. The result is a successful business that is always looking to improve.

HOW TO REACH: Grede Holdings LLC,