Crains Detroit – Interview with Joe Perkins, CEO of Mobex Global

Busche Performance Group becomes Mobex Global

Following a nearly-two year restructuring initiative, Southfield-based Busche Performance Group has changed its name to Mobex Global.

Leadership of the aluminum castings business believes the name reflects the future of the company as it continues to grow from a small single-plant operation 23 years ago to a major tier-one auto supplier.

Joe Perkins

“We’ve been transforming the organization for the past two years, really working to establish it as a supplier of choice, as a tier-one to the major (automakers),” Joe Perkins, president and CEO, told Crain’s. “I don’t see the new name as a destination, but a continued journey. It represents all of the changes and we’re not done.”

The name is a combination of mobility and excellence, Perkins said. Besides traditional passenger vehicles, the company also supplies to the off-road vehicle industry.

Perkins was hired as CEO in August 2018 — his first shot at the top role in a C-suite — after years of moving up the ranks, serving as CFO for Auburn Hills-based Key Safety Systems during its quest to acquire bankrupt Japanese airbag supplier Takata Corp. out of bankruptcy. Key Safety, now called Joyson Safety Systems, closed the $1.6 billion deal in April 2018, more than doubling the size of the supplier. Prior to joining Key Safety in 2016, Perkins was the CFO of steering system supplier Nexteer Automotive for three years.

The company was set on a growth path in 2014 when former Ford Motor Co. executive Michael Dingman’s investment firm Shipston Group Ltd. invested in the supplier. The new owners put the company in overdrive, establishing a new facility in Indiana and big new contracts from Honda and Fiat Chrysler.

Perkins’ first order of business was to lead a $150 million recapitalization that left Busche with a new majority owner, Texas-based investment firm EF Capital Management, and an influx of cash. Mobex closed on another recapitalization in June from four family offices, including an undisclosed office in metro Detroit. Perkins declined to reveal the financial details of the investment.

Perkins consolidated operations across its many plants in Indiana and the company’s systems.

“The company was really a sum of acquisitions that had never been integrated,” Perkins said. “So we brought the company together under one strategy.”

The supplier also expanded outside the U.S. in July 2019 by creating a joint venture in China with Chongqing Sanyou Corp.

Then COVID-19 happened.

Busche closed a plant in Indiana after the industry shutdown for roughly six weeks as COVID-19 spread throughout the U.S. The shutdowns and subsequent lack of demand plunged Busche’s forecasted revenue from more than $400 million to $275 million for 2020.

But as Mobex and supporting the new Ford F-150 redesign launch in September, Perkins said the company should be back on track to exceed $400 million in revenue in 2021.

“It’s been heavy lifting, but a lot of the transformation we were doing pre-COVID had to be shelved,” Perkins said. “We’ve had to figure out what the heck was going to happen with COVID. Then on a dime, we had to start back up. We’ve done so flawlessly and I think we’re going to exceed our own expectations next year.”

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