Gary L. Convis

Gary L. Convis

Gary L. Convis’ is a well-known business leader.  His long and successful career began when Michigan State University granted him a Bachelor of Science in mathematics with a minor in physics.  Convis’ career expanded over forty-four years in the automotive industry, employed by  General Motors,  Ford, and Toyota.  According to Bloomberg, Convis is associated with six Boards in six organizations and across eleven industries. 

Gary Convis has been referred to as a ‘brilliant” CEO of Dana Corporation.  He is well known for his “lean” thinking management style.  “Lean” thinking in the business world is not a profit-loss analysis. Still, it is a method to organize one’s activities to provide value to individuals and benefits to society, which has the natural consequence of reducing or eliminating waste.

Lean thinking aligns the satisfaction of the customer with employee satisfaction.  The result would be innovations in managing activities and creating new products, which would increase profitability while reducing costs to the customer, suppliers, and the environment.  Lean thinking does not change the management goals but is designed to achieve these goals with a workforce that has higher job satisfaction and a consumer who feels that their needs are better understood. 

The success of a business would be the direct result of a transformative process of self-analysis and awareness, which produces a more efficient work environment better attuned to achieving the best possible results in every human activity, leading to the business goal of reducing waste and increasing profits.

Lean thinking is not a Western cultural approach to the work ethic but is entwined in a philosophical Eastern cultural experience.  Lean thinking’s purpose is to achieve higher personal goals with a commitment to decrease waste in one’s personal and working life, which produces a waste-conscious workforce.  This management process was introduced into the business world by Toyota.  Convis’ career with Toyota started in 1984.  

At that time, Toyota and General Motors were engaged in a joint venture, and Convis was part of the startup for this venture, New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (TMMK). Conis served as President of TMMK in 2001.  From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Convis was TMMK’s Executive Vice President, primarily responsible for the plant’s daily manufacturing operations.  He was a Director of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. and served as Chairman of the Board of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky, Inc. Gary Convis was the non-Japanese President of Toyota.  Convis is credited with transforming Toyota from the worst GM plant to its best in two years.

In 2011, the book “The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence Through Leadership Development” was published and co-authored by Gary Convis.  This book thoroughly explained lean management, which is considered an explanation of this type of leadership culture.  The book discusses the four levels of lean management: (1)commit to self-development, (2) coach and develop others,(3) support daily kaizen, (4) create a vision and align goals. “Kaizen” is the Japanese word for “improvement.” and in the context of lean management, “Kaizen” refers to continuous improvement.