Roman J. Krygier Jr.

Group Vice President, Global Manufacturing (Retired)
Ford Motor Co.
BSME ’64

For his outstanding leadership and vision in global automotive manufacturing and management.

A Career Built for the Road Ahead

In 1964, Ford Fairlanes, Galaxies, and Thunderbirds filled American highways, and a classic—the Mustang—was born. That same year, Roman Krygier joined the automotive giant as a trainee foreman at its Chicago Stamping Plant, beginning a four-decade career that would help usher in Ford’s flexible production operations and culminate with his post as group vice president of global manufacturing.

The son of a journeyman tool-and-die maker, Krygier grew up in Thornton, Illinois. Following his father’s advice, he enrolled in Purdue—the first member of his family to attend college. After earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Krygier started at Ford, completing two years of rotational assignments. “I always had a bent for manufacturing operations,” he says, having enjoyed the summers he’d spent working for U.S. Steel as a college student. Nine years into his career at Ford, he accepted the company’s offer for him to study at MIT as a Sloan Fellow and earn a master’s in the science of management. “I found out I needed a little more exposure to the financial part of the business,” he says. “I took labor management, financial controls, and standard costing systems. It was beneficial, because when I came back, I was assigned, in Dearborn, as an assistant to the operations manager in stamping operations. Some of my assignments related to understanding cost systems and looking at budgets.”

Krygier’s move to the Buffalo (New York) Stamping Plant in 1977 as plant manager marked another turning point. “That was what I would call my first general management of entire operation,” Krygier recalls. “It was a very rewarding experience, and very challenging. The plant was in trouble with costs and schedule. It was an experience where you have to deliver.” After leading a turnaround of the Buffalo plant, he was promoted to stamping business manager and then operations manager, with responsibility for all such operations in the U.S.

In 1992, Krygier had the opportunity to learn the assembly side of automotive manufacturing when he became Ford’s assembly operations manager. He now had responsibility for finishing the vehicle. “That brought a different type of understanding of the business,” he says. “You had to deal with all your supply base for engines, transmission, radios, stampings, exterior moldings, inside trim, and exterior trim. The relationship part of the business was really broadened, and our interface with the engineers who designed the vehicle was much more involved. My engineering background and degree made me comfortable in those relationships. I knew how things were designed and manufactured.”

Quality,Standardization, and Flexible Manufacturing

Krygier’s next promotion, to general manager, brought him responsibility for all of Ford’s North American assembly plants, stamping plants, and manufacturing engineering. At that time, the automaker embarked on the Ford 2000 initiative, a project for globalizing and standardizing processes and operating methods. “That was a time of change for the company, and the project had a lot of visibility,” says Krygier, whose experience and expertise broadened, with involvement in Europe and Asia. As a result of Ford 2000, he led in the development of the Ford Production System, which defined a common way in which Ford facilities were to operate around the world.

Successive executive appointments broadened Krygier further. In the position from which he has just retired—group vice president for global manufacturing—he oversaw the development of Ford’s 3.5-liter V-6 engine, to be launched in 2006. The Lima, Ohio, plant that builds the new engines reflects Ford’s flexible manufacturing approach, incorporating common engine architectures, common manufacturing equipment, and CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools.

Flexible manufacturing in Ford’s assembly plants means that “we can deal with up to four models off a given platform, as well as different platforms using the same tooling and facilities,” says Krygier. “This allows us to respond to lower incremental volume, or come up with unique vehicles off our base platforms. From body shop through paint to trim and final assembly, we are applying flexible manufacturing as well as standardization. The two go together, in my opinion.”

In addition to spearheading Ford’s flexible-manufacturing systems, Krygier served as the company’s executive sponsor for worker safety, overseeing a more than 90 percent improvement in safety statistics during the past six years, and he gained distinction over the course of his career as an advocate of employee involvement and as a coach and mentor to other Ford employees. For the 2003 United Autoworkers Workers (UAW) contract with Ford, Krygier served as lead negotiator, along with Ford’s vice president for labor relations. “My experiences were always positive and effective with the UAW,” he says. “Labor relations and involvement with the UAW were part of my fabric as I grew up in the business.”

2004 Engineering Advisory Council, Purdue
2001–06 Group Vice President, Global Manufacturing; Manufacturing and Quality, Ford Automotive Operations
1999–2001 Vice President, Powertrain Operations; Manufacturing, Ford Automotive Operations
1998–99 Vice President, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering; Manufacturing, Ford Automotive Operations
1994–98 Executive Director, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering and Process Leadership; Manufacturing, Ford Automotive Operations
1993–94 General Manager
1992–93 Assembly Operations Manager
1987–92 Stamping Operations Manager
1986–87 Stamping and Trim Operations Manager
1985–86 Plant Operations Manager
1983–85 Stamping Planning Manager; Body and Assembly Operations
1964–83 Various positions with Ford_Motor Co., beginning with Trainee Foreman and concluding with Plant Manager; Body and Assembly Division; Buffalo Stamping Plant

BSME ’64, Purdue University
MS ’74, MIT