Be more than just another supplier. As an automotive supplier, we have learned that it is essential to develop and maintain superior customer relations. This is accomplished through continuous attention to our customers' concerns and needs. We recognize that we have to be more than just another supplier; that we have to know and support end-user satisfaction requirements in an effort to delight the customer. Our excellent customer relationships have been established not only through consistently meeting the daily production needs of our customer but also through regular visits to OEM facilities, around-the-clock launch support, component problem analysis and cost-reduction activities that allow OEMs to be more competitive. -- Collins & Aikman Corp. -- Guelph Products, Guelph, Ontario, CanadaWin with the winners. There are any number of strategies that businesses use to become successful. One of those strategies for General Cable's Automotive Products business at the Altoona plant has been our "Win with the Winners" strategy. Simply stated, we strive to develop close business partnerships with the best customers and suppliers in the automotive aftermarket. By selecting the best suppliers in our market, we have been able to substantially consolidate our supply base and develop close working relationships with a small group of excellent companies. These supplier partnerships have yielded tremendous benefits in multiple performance categories. Since they are true partnerships that include candid communication and joint work on continuous-improvement projects, they have proven very beneficial to our suppliers as well. We also have selected and partnered with the best customers in the automotive aftermarket and have benefited from their successes. Initially, we did not develop the close relationships with our customers as quickly as we had with our core suppliers. As we have become integrated with our customers through candid communication and various joint programs, we have been able to more fully exploit the improvements we have made through lean manufacturing. Our customers rely heavily on us to be the experts in the product lines we provide. Tighter customer integration has allowed us to anticipate their needs quicker and more accurately. We now involve key customers with core suppliers in our annual supply-chain conference, where needs and capabilities are matched and our supply chain is truly linked. -- General Cable Corp. - Automotive Products, Altoona, Pa.Bring suppliers along on the lean journey. Early in our evolution to excellence, we sent operations leaders to the University of Kentucky for a week of lean-fundamentals training. Included in that training was a tour of the Toyota Production System. Of particular interest was the way Toyota managed its supply chain and minimized product cycle time. We have worked hard to improve our supply chain through the use of a consolidated purchasing group, who was also initially trained in lean concepts at the University of Kentucky. Supplier lead-time is a major contributor to our overall order-to-shipment lead-time and has been the target of the purchasing group's kaizen events at key suppliers since 2000. Events typically result in lead-time reductions of 30% or more. -- Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors, Syracuse, N.Y.