Volume 14, Issue 6 - November/December 2012

industry insiders
people in the news

Belron’s John Robinson Enjoys Early Retirement

Longtime industry stalwart John Robinson officially retired from Belron. After 22 years of service, the former director of Belron technical services for the Americas and Austro-Asia made the decision to take advantage of early retirement.

Robinson joined the company at a time when it had just bought Glass Medic Inc. brand in the United States, he recalls. “At this time the Belron name had not been established although the Group had an international presence,” he says. “They had mixed equipment across the group; if I were to pat myself on the back it would be for achieving repair growth across the world.”

During his time in the industry, Robinson says he saw many improvements. For him, increased professionalism has been the greatest development.

“I started in 1974, before Belron was formed. It was a little bit of a cowboy business back then,” he says. “Over the years it has gotten incredibly more and more professional.”

Looking back on his career, Robinson notes that he will most miss “the folk, customers, and my team. I can’t say more than that really. I’m a real people-driven individual. That’s what I’m really going to miss and already am.”

Robinson’s team made a similar observation in expressing their thoughts on his retirement.

“John’s footprint in Belron is absolutely visible and above all shows how he loved to engage with people,” says Johan Mortier, technical director at Belron International. “He was most definitely an expert in this field and a great ambassador for the company.”

AGC North America’s Leader Discusses the U.S. Market and the Future
Marehisa “Mark” Ishiko, who was named president and CEO of AGC Glass Co. North America in June 2010, recently talked with AGRR™ magazine about his long history in the company’s automotive business and his hopes for the future.

GB: Can you tell me a little bit about where you grew up?
MI: I was born in Nagoya, the fourth largest city in Japan … I graduated from Yokahama National University in 1982, where I had specialized in chemical engineering. After graduating, I joined AGC the same year—30 years ago. I first worked as an engineer for the automotive glass division in Japan. I supported the new technology process and advanced process and quality improvement group. I moved to Europe in 1991. AGC was constructing a new automotive glass plant in Belgium, and I was the chief engineer over this project. We stayed in Belgium for five years where I continued to supervise production, technology and operations.

I then returned to Japan in 1996 and in 2000 I moved to the AGC headquarters in Tokyo as director of our Japan/Asia-Pacific automotive business. In 2007, I became the regional president of automotive business in Japan/Asia-Pacific. Just three years ago, I moved to the flat glass division. And in the middle of 2009, I took over both auto and flat glass when I became the regional president of the glass business in Japan/Asia-Pacific. In 2010, I came here to the United States and I became president and CEO of AGC Glass Company North America. I also serve as a senior executive for the global AGC Group.

GB: You took over in the midst of an economic downturn. Has this affected the way you lead the company?
MI: … I expect further growth in the U.S. market. The population of America is around 300 million people. The population increases by approximately 3 million people every year and three million people is a huge number … it’s a very big opportunity for us. That’s the reason why I expect very big growth and faster growth of the market in the U.S. in the coming years. This is my expectation and, at the same time, we have to meet our customers’ requirements—capacity, quality and also products.

For the past five or six years we’ve had the same strategy in order to meet the market situation and customer requirements. The peak of glass consumption was 2007. After that, we had to shrink our operations in order to match market demands. In 2007, we had eight float furnaces in North America. Now, just three furnaces remain in North America. It is expected that the market will grow, so we have to expand capacity and we have to upgrade our equipment in order to meet customers’ requirements. We have changed our strategy completely toward growth …

GB: What are your specific goals for AGC in the North American market?
MI: We are changing to become a solution provider, by not only providing glass but also by providing solutions for customers. This is a very big change for us and this is the basis of our “Beyond Glass” approach. We have very advanced integration for environmental issues, C02, emission reductions and energy savings so we can provide a solution to the customer. This will be our focus…

GB: What do you see as the biggest problems facing your customers?
MI: Clearly the economy and where the market is heading is a challenge for customers across the industry. Even though we see the market recovering, if the economy stalls it’s a concern that is very visible to our customers ...

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