Vice President and General Manager, EFI Automotive
Pascal Auburtin is the Vice President and General Manager of EFI Automotive’s North American headquarters, also known as Electricfil Corporation, located in Elkmont, Alabama. The company is a subsidiary of EFI Automotive in Lyon, France. Auburtin is responsible for the company’s North American operations and continued development in NAFTA and South America.
EFI Automotive’s operations in North America comprise R&D, manufacturing and engineering activities in Alabama, a recently opened  production facility in Guadalajara in Mexico, and a sales and engineering support office near Detroit, Michigan.
Prior to Electricfil Corporation, Pascal held various international-related positions at Plasto, including VP and later President of Plasto, Inc. in Michigan, where he lived from 1995 to 2001. In 1998, he also started Plasto’s operations in Brazil and created its subsidiary in São Paulo.
Pascal holds a business degree from the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Reims (DESCAF) and an M.B.A. from the University of Ottawa. He is 54 years old and has been married for 29 years to his wife, Michèle. Together, they have three children: Priscillia, Maxime and Constance.
Pascal has been with EFI Automotive for more than 12 years, initially joining the company as project manager for North America. After the purchase of the company’s new facility in northern Alabama near Huntsville, he moved there with his family in 2004.
Created in 1936, EFI Automotive is today the European leader for ignition systems and specializes in engine management, transmission, and climate-control sensors. Electricfil employs 1,600 people worldwide and had sales of €225 million in 2015. The company is headquartered in Beynost, near Lyon, France.
President and CEO, Auto Alliance
Mitch Bainwol is President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading trade association representing automakers selling new vehicles in the United States. The Auto Alliance represents 12 iconic automakers — from the U.S., Europe and Japan — on a range of safety, environmental and technology issues before Congress, the Executive Branch and state legislatures.
Bainwol is a strong advocate for market-driven government policies to advance an innovation agenda. “We’re on the precipice of a golden era in mobility. Our roads are going to be far safer than ever, and the environmental benefits are enormous,” according to Bainwol. “In today’s world, safer cars are green cars. The faster we can usher in the future, the better.”
Since coming to the Auto Alliance in September 2011, Bainwol has given consumers a larger voice in auto policy through development of the Alliance Auto Index, a national public opinion survey reaching nearly 60,000 people annually to provide insights into consumer attitudes about auto-related issues.
Bainwol is recognized for his leadership during transitions, building coalitions and fostering bipartisan political engagement. While chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (2003-2011), Bainwol helped the music industry adjust to the new digital world by curbing piracy and protecting intellectual property rights. Bainwol is now leading the auto industry’s efforts to develop public policy initiatives to accelerate automation and connectivity. “In the music space, innovation was a threat, because technology enabled theft. In the auto industry, I’m in a world with massive technology companies who build vehicles. Technology is not a threat to our business model; it’s the enabler of the future,” said Bainwol.
Bainwol is widely recognized for his campaign capabilities and knowledge of government processes. He spent 25 years in federal policymaking and politics, including serving as chief of staff to two U.S. Senators and two political committees. The Washington Post called Mr. Bainwol a “Top D.C. Lobbyist and Man in Demand.” Capitol Hill’s Roll Call newspaper included him as one of the 50 most influential “politicos” in Washington. Campaigns and Elections magazine named him a “Mover and Shaker.”
Bainwol began his career as a budget analyst in President Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget. He earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from Rice University.
Mr. Bainwol was born in Munich where his father was stationed. He grew up in Germany, the Canal Zone, Maryland and Thailand before graduating from Frankfurt American High School. He and his wife, Susan, have three children. He has been active in a variety of charities and nonprofits, including Leadership Music, National Fatherhood Initiative, the Bryce Harlow Foundation and Heart’s Delight.
Ph.D, Executive Director, Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies, The University of Alabama
The Road Ahead | Thursday, October 5 10 – 11 AM
Dr. Bharat Balasubramanian retired in 2012 as Vice President of Group Research and Advanced Engineering responsible for Product Innovations and Process Technologies after nearly 40 years as a research and development engineer for the Mercedes-Benz brand in Stuttgart, Germany. He has been at the forefront of most of the major advances that have occurred in automotive technology over the past 20 years. Together with his research team at Daimler, he was the initiator and champion of self-driving cars, connected vehicle V2X technologies, battery electric vehicles and CFRP light weighting. After his retirement, Dr. B joined the University of Alabama, College of Engineering as a professor in mechanical engineering and electrical & computer engineering as also executive director of the cross-discipline Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies (CAVT). Dr. B’s mission is to prepare UA students for their careers in the automotive industry in Alabama and the Southeast, and the University of Alabama and industry for future automotive challenges.
John is manager of global waste reduction at General Motors. In this role, he leads the company’s landfill-free initiative, which has resulted in an industry leading 152 GM operations around the world that reuse, recycle, and convert to energy all waste from daily operations. John is an expert in waste reduction and recycling, and is dubbed GM's MacGyver for devising unconventional uses for everyday waste. He frequently mentors other companies pursuing zero-waste goals.
John’s responsibilities also include directing GM’s design-for-the-environment program, circular economy and sustainable materials management concepts. These duties also include implementing sustainable processes and technologies that reduce environmental impact and costs. He collaborates with suppliers, product and manufacturing engineers, and numerous external stakeholder groups.
Under John’s leadership, GM recycled or reused 84 percent of its manufacturing waste generated globally through various resource conservation efforts in 2013. Between 2000 and 2010, the company reduced non-recycled manufacturing waste by 73 percent and met its landfill free goal to obtain of 150 landfill free operations, four years in advance.
John frequently speaks at various sustainability-focused events and has been recognized by the Society of Automotive Engineers with four Environmental Excellence in Transportation awards for material development and reuse and recycling projects. In 2015, John received the Presidential Lifetime Service Award from the Office of the President of the United States for sustainability services to youth.
John serves as the materials efficiency work group chairman for the Suppliers Partnership for the Environment, a forum GM helped found where suppliers share environmental best practices and sustainability initiatives. He is the executive advisory committee chairman for the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development.
John has worked for GM for more than 37 years. He earned a Master of Science degree in hazardous waste management from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1995 and a Bachelor of Science degree in conservation from Northern Michigan University in 1978. He is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager.
President and CEO, Business Council of Alabama
After serving as president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations in Washington D.C., William (Billy) Canary became the president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) in March 2003.
The BCA is the voice of business and industry in Alabama, representing more than 750,000 working Alabamians through its member companies that come from all segments of Alabama’s economy. BCA is Alabama’s affiliate organization to the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
A former elected official in Long Island, New York, Canary has an extensive background in public policy and the intergovernmental arena. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush appointed Canary to serve in the White House as special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs. Following his time at the White House, Canary was named chief of staff for the Republican National Committee.
The BCA has experienced tremendous growth throughout a decade of Canary’s leadership. In 2004, the Partnership between BCA and the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama was created, uniting BCA and the 124-plus local chambers of commerce across Alabama to create a business advocacy network that represents more than 1,000,000 working Alabamians. BCA’s Manufacturing Advocacy Council was launched in 2011, strengthening BCA’s partnership with the National Association of Manufacturers and giving Alabama manufacturers an even stronger voice. Most recently, BCA has been a driving force to create the Business and Education Alliance in Alabama, uniting these two communities for the common purpose of enhancing the education opportunities for Alabama’s school children and future workforce.
Canary serves on the board of directors of the Alabama Aerospace Industry Association, Alabama Automobile Manufacturers Association, the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama. He is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100 and serves on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Manufacturers State Associations Group. Canary also serves on the Alabama School Readiness Alliance’s Pre-K Task Force and the Advisory Board of ReadyNation, a project of America’s Promise Alliance.
Canary is a graduate of the State University College of New York at Oneonta and holds a Juris Doctor from the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center at Touro College at Huntington, NY. He lives in Montgomery with his wife Leura and their children, Will and Margaret.
Leadership Development | Thursday, October 5 2:15 – 3:15 PM
Mr. Comella is the Account Executive for the Automotive industry and is also the Controller at Supply Chain Services International (SCSI), a provider of logistics, quality and technical services in the manufacturing sector. Mr. Comella supports the commercial relationship with OEMs such as Mercedes-Benz, Ford and Hyundai as well as several Tier One and Tier Two suppliers looking to minimize the impact of quality spills.
Until July 2015, he led the Human Resource Team. In this position, Mr. Comella supported all aspects of SCSI human resources initiatives, including employee recruitment and retention, compensation plans and benefits administration, training and development programs, Affirmative Action Plan and Equal Employment Opportunity programs, performance evaluations, and workplace health and safety programs.
In addition, Mr. Comella has responsibility over financial decisions at SCSI and manages the accounting, purchasing and travel functions.
Prior to SCSI he was an HR Business Partner at Advanced Technology Services, Inc. In that role he worked with a team of HR Generalists to serve over 1800 employees in the manufacturing sector. In the civil engineering sector, Mr. Comella joined Hanson Professional Services in 2006 as director of human resources and as a vice president and principal.
Mr. Comella has more than 30 years of experience in human resource management, leadership development, marketing, sales management and training. He has served as the assistant director of The Leadership Development Center at Bradley University and marketing director for Bradley’s Foster College of Business Administration. In this role, Mr. Comella conducted executive coaching and counseling, leadership workshops, strategic facilitation, team-building activities and leadership assessments for managers, executives, professionals and teams from corporations nationwide.
During his career, Mr. Comella also worked in retail management for RadioShack, a national consumer electronics retailer. As sales manager and district sales manager for RadioShack in Illinois and Michigan, he directed employee orientation, management training, special-event marketing, personnel promotions and mentoring programs. Additionally, Comella was the general manager for Computer City in Chicago, a national computer retail superstore that was owned by Tandy Corp.
Comella holds a bachelor’s degree in management from DePaul University and an M.B.A. from Bradley University. Comella earned his certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) in January 2007. Comella earned his SHRM – SCP certification in January 2015.
Chief Administrative Officer, Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia
Stuart Countess is responsible for leading the Human Resources and Administration Division, including Team Relations, Public Relations, Safety, Security, Environmental, General Affairs, Legal and Sales.
He previously served as the Vice President of Quality, overseeing vehicle quality as well as supplier quality, process quality, customer satisfaction, warranty and ISO certifications. Originally, Countess joined KMMG in 2008 to manage the Assembly Shop.
Prior to KMMG, Countess spent 13 years with Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama, where he served in numerous leadership positions, including supplier quality manager, quality manager and assembly manager.
Previously, he worked as a senior supplier quality engineer with an automotive Tier 1 supplier. Prior to that, he served as quality engineering administrator for a division of Hughes Aircraft in LaGrange, Georgia.
He holds a B.S. from the University of Alabama in Electrical Engineering and an M.B.A. from LaGrange College.
PE, CCM, Construction Management Leader, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors
The Project Life Cycle and Your Bottom Line | Thursday, October 5 10 – 11 AM
Jason Crain, PE, CCM, is a professional Chemical Engineer, Certified Construction Manager, project manager and part owner of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors. He leads teams of up to fifty to complete capital projects for Hargrove’s industrial clients. He routinely oversees projects ranging up to $100M total installed cost (TIC) that may last up to three years from front-end estimating and early conceptual design through construction and start-up. He has a reputation among our clients as well as fellow teammates for executing projects on-time and on-budget with a high level of attention paid toward quality, safety and innovation. Jason led an implementation team for Hargrove in 2011 that created Hargrove’s Front End Planning toolkit. For this effort, he was nationally recognized by the Construction Industry Institute (CII) receiving their Outstanding Implementer Award. His championing of cross-division training for Hargrove’s best practices implementation of project execution and work processes earned Hargrove the 2013 Professional Development Award from CII. Also in 2013, Jason was recognized as a graduate of CII’s Executive Leadership Program. He is currently serving as Chair of CII’s Strategic Planning Committee having been a member of their Implementation Strategy Committee until 2016, still serving as one of Hargrove’s Implementation Champions.
Lisa DeCarolis has been a Risk Control Consultant at CNA since 2011. She serves as the Financial Institutions Segment Risk Control Coordinator for the Southern Zone. In addition, Lisa is one of three designated representatives in the Southern Zone who works with customers to help understand, identify, and mitigate cyber exposures within their organizations. Lisa holds the Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) designation. The CIPT curriculum validates knowledge of privacy-related issues and practices in the context of the design and implementation of information and communication technologies. Lisa holds a bachelors degree in Risk Management & Insurance from the University of Georgia and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi.
President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc.
David Fernandes is President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, Inc. (Toyota Alabama), in Huntsville, Alabama. He is responsible for all manufacturing and support functions.
Toyota Alabama, which opened in May 2003, builds V-8, V-6 and 4-cylinder engines for the Tundra, Tacoma, Sequoia, Highlander, Camry and RAV4 vehicles. The plant employs more than 1,400 team members and has expanded four times (since beginning production), with a total investment of $864 million and an annual capacity of about 710,000.
Before becoming President, Mr. Fernandes was Vice President for Toyota Alabama. He began his 19-year career with Toyota in 1998 at the West Virginia plant as a group leader, working his way up to Assistant General Manager with responsibility for the North American transmission business. In 2008 Fernandes was assigned to the Toyota Motor North American Production Engineering group and became a General Manager at Toyota Kentucky in 2012.
Prior to his career with Toyota, Fernandes was general manager at Rolls-Royce Aircraft Engine Corporation.
David graduated from Purdue University in Indiana with a B.S.B. in Business Administration and a B.S.B. in Human Resource Management. His currently serves on the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Business Council of Alabama (BCA) Board of Directors, BCA Manufacturing Advocacy Council and Committee of 100.
Director, Process Engineering, Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, Nissan North America, Inc.
Erik Fields is Director of Process Engineering, Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, Nissan North America, Inc., a position to which he was appointed in November 2014. In his role, Fields is responsible for developing and executing engineering strategies that support the plant’s achievement of safety, quality, cost and delivery targets.
Fields joined Nissan North America in 2007 as a product quality engineer and held a number of engineering roles at the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant. Most recently Fields served as manufacturing program manager for the launch of several vehicles, including the NV passenger van, Altima and Titan XD at the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant.
Prior to joining Nissan, Fields worked for five years in both supplier development and new model development at Honda of America in South Carolina and Ohio.
Fields holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Mississippi and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from Ohio University. He is based at the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Canton, Mississippi.
President of Quistem, LLC
Cathy Fisher is founder and President of Quistem, LLC. With more than 30 years of respected expertise in the quality field, Cathy helps manufacturers throughout the automotive supply chain “find hidden money” in their operations, eliminate customer complaints permanently and develop a proactive quality culture to achieve rapid business growth.
She started her “Quality” career with General Motors in the 1980s, working for the AC Spark Plug division in Flint, Michigan, where she led product development efforts to support GM-sponsored NASCAR teams. In 1990, Cathy joined ITT-Teves in Asheville, NC to help with their launch of anti-lock brake technology in the US automotive market, including assisting with two plant start-ups. In 1993, Cathy became a member of BMW’s plant start-up team in Greer, SC, where she led the establishment of BMW’s North American supply-base in support of the 318, 325 and Z-3 Roadster vehicle launches.
Today, Cathy shares her automotive and plant start-up expertise with organizations who are expanding their business into the automotive sector, to become premier suppliers. Her proven approach to developing a proactive quality culture has been described by her automotive clients as “a license to print money” in their manufacturing operations.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International
Jason D. Hoff has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) since 2013. He leads MBUSI’s 3,600+ Team Members in the production of the GLE, GLS and GLE Coupe luxury sport utility vehicles, as well as the C-Class for the North American market. MBUSI is currently in the midst of a $1.3 billion expansion to build the next-generation SUVs, which are sold in more than 135 countries.
Mr. Hoff has 20+ years of experience with Daimler AG, MBUSI’s parent company – most recently, he was responsible for procurement in Stuttgart for Mercedes-Benz interior components and the E-/C-Class sedan. Prior to his assignment in Germany, he served in various management roles with MBUSI, including Vice President of Purchasing and Logistics & Vice President of Assembly Operations.
Mr. Hoff initially joined Daimler AG in 1993 through the Daimler International Management Associates program. One of his first assignments was as Controller for the initial $350 million Mercedes-Benz Project investment. Following that project, he moved rapidly through the ranks as Senior Manager in MBUSI’s Finance/Corporate Controlling Department, followed by Senior Manager of Supplier Quality Engineering and Senior Manager of Assembly Operations, Plant 2. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Linfield College in Oregon.
Growing up in the small town of Camden in Wilcox County and working on her father’s farm taught Kay Ivey to value hard work and living within one’s means. Her parents instilled values of faith, family and community.
After graduating from Auburn University in 1967, Kay worked as a high school teacher and a bank officer. She served as Reading Clerk of the Alabama House of Representatives under Speaker Joseph C. McCorquodale and Assistant Director of the Alabama Development Office, where she worked to spur job creation and economic development across the State.
In 2002, Kay became the first Republican-elected State Treasurer since Reconstruction and was re-elected in 2006. As Treasurer, Kay was committed to making the office more open, transparent and efficient.
Kay was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2010, becoming the first Republican woman to hold the office in Alabama’s history. She again made history on November 4, 2014, by becoming the first Republican Lieutenant Governor re-elected to the office. The Lieutenant Governor’s primary Constitutional duty is to preside over legislative proceedings of the upper house as President of the Senate.
One of Kay’s first actions in office was to lead the Commission on Improving State Government. The Commission was tasked with exploring ways to reduce government spending and find efficiencies in State government. Many of the Commission’s recommendations were implemented, laying the groundwork for Alabama to successfully complete The Road to Saving $1 Billion in December 2013.
In addition, Kay has taken on several initiatives to grow jobs, address child hunger, and increase STEM education. As Chair of the Military Stability Commission, she is leading the first statewide coordinated effort to secure and strengthen Alabama’s military assets ahead of any potential base or force realignments. She also serves as national chair of the Aerospace States Association.
On April 10, 2017, Kay was sworn in as the 54th Governor of the State of Alabama in the Old Senate Chamber in the Alabama State Capitol by Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart.
Kay has been honored to receive numerous awards for her service to the State of Alabama, including the 2015 ALFA Service to Agriculture Award, Newmax’s 50 Most Influential Female Republicans in the country and, most recently, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2016 Public Service Award.
Kay believes if you campaign as a Conservative for office, then you should govern as a Conservative in office. Kay Ivey will continue to bring conservative leadership with effective results to make this generation more productive and the next generation more prosperous.
She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery, the Montgomery Rotary Club, and the Board of Directors of the Montgomery YMCA. Kay is also the first Girls State alumnus to be elected to an Alabama Constitutional Office.
Vice President, North American Purchasing, Honda North America, Inc.
Tom Lake is Vice President of Purchasing at Honda North America, Inc., responsible for optimization of the supply chain that supports Honda’s automobile operations. In this role, Lake leads both the direct and indirect procurement groups that serve the entire North American region. He is also responsible for the technical team that drives supplier quality and delivery performance improvement as well as total operational efficiency.
Lake joined Honda in 1987 during the initial development of its domestic supplier network. During his career, he helped expand Honda’s purchasing network to more than 700 OEM suppliers in North America, from which Honda now purchases over $26 billion in parts and materials annually.
As the leader of North American Purchasing, Lake has aggressively promoted quality excellence, total cost optimization, and supplier diversity. He currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
In an effort to continue driving further advancement in the Purchasing and Supply Chain fields, Lake is an active member of the CAPS Research Executive Advisory Board.
A native of Cleveland, Lake earned his bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, and he continues to support business education in cooperation with several local colleges.
Associate Director for External Relations, Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, The University of Mississippi
The Millennial Mindset | Thursday, October 5 2:15 – 3:15 PM
Ryan serves as the Associate Director for External Relations for the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME) at the University of Mississippi. Ryan’s primary responsibilities surround interfacing with members of industry, government, and other manufacturing related entities. He oversees the recruiting of undergraduate students for the CME academic program and leads the CME in its K-12 manufacturing education outreach. He serves as the Secretary for the Mississippi Automotive Manufacturing Association, serves as a member of the Manufacturing Foresight Education and Workforce Working Group partnering with other universities and colleges, and represents the CME on the Education Council for the Manufacturing Institute in Washington DC. He serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Oxford/Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and is an adjunct faculty member of the School of Business Administration where he teaches business law. Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in International Studies from The University of Mississippi and the Croft Institute for International Studies as well as his law degree from the University of Mississippi.
President, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC
Jeff Tomko is President of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC (HMA), where he oversees all manufacturing and business operations for the $2.2 billion light truck and engine plant.
Tomko joined Honda in 1987 as a member of the Honda of America Mfg. Inc. Purchasing Development Group.
In 2005, Tomko became assistant vice president of the Procurement Group and was named to the Honda of America board of directors. In 2007, he became vice president and plant manager of Honda Transmission of America Mfg., Inc. in Russells Point, Ohio. In 2011, Tomko was named vice president and plant manager of the Marysville Auto Plant, Honda’s first auto plant in North America.
He joined HMA as Senior Vice President in 2013 and was named President in 2014.
He has been a board member of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama since 2014.
Born in Lorain, Ohio, he is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He and his wife, Laura, have two sons attending Auburn University.
Located in Lincoln, Alabama, HMA is the exclusive manufacturer of the Honda Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline and Acura MDX, as well as the V-6 engines that power these vehicles.