Marketing & Communications
BGSU alumni keep Ohio company Rolling Along
By Marie Dunn-Harris
CEO Joe McAleese
It's a company that prides itself on keeping our highways safer by developing and manufacturing leading-edge products and systems for the tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles you see on the road every day. It's a trailblazing company that saturates itself with talented employees whose skills are developed, among other ways, through co-op assignments and development programs in areas such as finance, supply chain and engineering. And it's a company that stands at 29 and counting in BGSU alumni, including president and CEO Joe McAleese '81 and '82.
McAleese, a South Euclid, Ohio, native, runs Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC in Elyria, Ohio. He credits his personal and leadership success with the North American industry leader to the education he received from the College of Business.
"BGSU's accounting program has a great reputation, which is what I ended up choosing, plus I liked the small town atmosphere from the first time I visited there," he said.
Fresh out of college, Bendix was the first company for which McAleese worked, starting out as a corporate auditor. After 19 years of wearing different hats and having several job titles, he was able to climb the ladder to become president and CEO, a title he has held for the past 12 years.
"One of the foundational elements I received at Bowling Green was the broad business education," he said. "I think that's one of my strengths today. And as I went through my career, I built that by going to different roles and different functions. I got a good, very strong foundation through the educators at Bowling Green."
McAleese named two areas in which he thinks he has had the greatest impact on the company. The first is the technology it develops to keep drivers and highways safe. Bendix designs and manufactures braking systems and components for heavy trucks, with products like compressors, air dryers, air disc brakes, drum brakes, valves and more, as well as active vehicle safety systems that keep the trucks from rolling over in accidents, or make them come to a complete stop if the driver cannot react in time.
"We're bringing advanced technology products to our customers, to those who own and operate tractor trailers. We're helping to eliminate highway deaths and reduce the number of highway accidents," McAleese said.
His second influence is the family atmosphere deeply rooted within the company.
"While we're not a family business, the core strength of Bendix is all the people in the business. We have a workforce that is passionate about their work, dedicated to the company, and truly caring about each other. That's a key element."
Finding the right employees takes a lot of effort. "One of the biggest challenges we have as a business is constantly refreshing that talent base and bringing the right people with the right skills into the organization," the CEO said.
Bendix has a talent acquisition team, led by Kevin Clere, that visits universities across the region to find new workers. Students who are hired for one of 60 co-op positions annually gain valuable experience to help them find a job right after graduation.
"We take great pride in our program," Clere said. "Whether the assignment is in marketing, supply chain, engineering or wherever, our co-op students dive in and get real world practical experience. They have challenging assignments. They have deadlines, due dates just like anybody else. They have individual goals and work with teams."
The company supports BGSU with its active co-op program through the College of Business. "BG has been integral in staffing our supply chain," said Clere. "We partner very heavily with BGSU and love the program. The degrees and the talent we get are fantastic."
BGSU's student chapter of the Association for Operations Management, also known as the Supply Chain Management organization, has attained the Gold Merit Award for the eighth year in a row and is only one of 10 in the world to achieve this high level of excellence.
In order to secure one of the co-op assignments, students must stand out.
"We have five values that drive our organization and live within every employee," said Communications Director Barbara Gould '79. "They are: entrepreneurship, technical excellence, responsibility, reliability and passion. These same values are, in part, what you have the opportunity to develop during your academic career at BGSU. Your ability to demonstrate this at school and in a workplace setting will help you stand out during the interview and selection process."
As president and CEO, McAleese models the application of those values in achieving success for himself and Bendix. He started out in sales, marketing and supply chain and gained a thorough understanding of the overall function of the business. He said students who plan to follow in his path should get involved in campus organizations so they develop strong leadership skills.
"At the end of the day, the job of a CEO is to manage and lead the people of an organization. So you can get all of those elements, but if you can't be a good leader and can't connect with people, you're not going to be successful. Good communication is the key," he said.
McAleese returns to campus twice a year thanks to his role on the Board of Advocates for the College of Business. The board is comprised of successful alumni who advise the dean on curricula, alumni affairs, student mentorship, internships, job placement and faculty engagement with industry.
"Dean Ray Braun is doing a great job driving the business school forward in the right direction," McAleese said. "You can feel it in the students you meet and work with - it's very exciting."
For more information about co-op opportunities and careers at Bendix, visit www.kbnajobs.com.
(Posted September 30, 2013 )