At JTEKT Machinery Americas, industry diversification is a growing core value. Mike Defer, president and CEO of JTEKT Machinery Americas, enjoys change, relishing in never knowing what’s going to come in the door. The company's strategy is to always be ready for an ever-changing environment, and becoming a one-stop machine tool company, within their own as well as with partner brands, is a burgeoning quest.Defer grew up in Metro Detroit, so the automotive industry was a core part of his young identity. His dad was a “lifelong Chrysler guy” who taught him how to rebuild cars. Defer knew early on that he’d work in the manufacturing and engineering world. Electrified IndustryJTEKT Machinery’s product offerings, including with partner companies, consist of horizontal machining centers, grinders, vertical machining centers, bridge and boring mills, and turning centers. All are expertly crafted to maximize production across metal cutting industries. JTEKT also offers rebuild programs to breathe new life into old equipment, as well as buyback programs where the value of an old machine can be applied to a trade-in for a remanufactured machine or a new machine. In areas where there are product gaps, JTEKT will continue to bring in partners. “We want to make sure we get really good at what we’re doing and not spread ourselves too thin, but we still want to get out to these different industries that are a good fit for us, such as heavy-duty energy and oil and gas,” Defer says. “Medical and aerospace are growing opportunities, as are job shops. Industry diversification is what we’re all about.”As for industry direction, Defer emphasizes EVs and a strong move toward them without abandoning other technologies. JTEKT’s equipment has a strong presence in shops that machine internal combustion engine (ICE) components and hybrids as it continues to tool up for EV growth. “We have a lot of good offerings for electric vehicles, but we see change in other industries as well,” Defer says. “Customers want smart manufacturing solutions and automation, so we’re always looking for continuous improvement. We’re putting more technology into our machines, as well as into system-level and future technologies.” JTEKT offers pallet and robot automation, smart manufacturing, and overall equipment efficiency monitoring systems, transfer lines, and tool management systems.Product line changes include integrating higher speed and better reliability into horizontal machining centers, as well as improved data collection for smarter systems and increasing use of skiving technology for EV gear generation and multi-state automatic transmissions.Efficiency and sustainability are two pillars of JTEKT, extending to company operations as well. The company boasts one of the biggest solar fields in the area, producing more than 100% of the energy used at its Arlington Heights, Illinois facility.The Final WordThe world according to Mike Defer is “Change is inevitable, so we must adapt. We cannot be afraid of it. We must embrace the change and look for what’s coming. The progress behind change is a very attractive thing. People like that. They don’t like the change element. My job as president is to help us challenge the status quo, find the good technology fit, and look for ways to continuously adapt.”Check out the future of machine tool manufacturing by connecting with JTEKT Machinery Americas in booth #338700 at IMTS 2024.
What is the world according to Mike Defer? “Change is inevitable” epitomizes Defer’s outlook toward manufacturing technology. He relishes the unpredictability of opportunities, whether it’s EVs, hybrids, automation, or the status quo in flux. As a leader, he sees his role as preparing his team to excel amid shifting paradigms, ensuring they thrive in an ever-changing landscape.