Detroit retirees helped Tiger Lu open shop

From:Automotive News



"If the customer says we need to move to the U.S. — but they don't want to pay extra money — then we will negotiate. Our customers will be reasonable." Tiger Lu, center, president of Sanhua Automotive's U.S. operations, with Edwin Stanke, , and Harry Eustice, who worked for Sanhua in China before returning to the U.S. to help Lu.  Photo credit: CRAIG GORKIEWICZ

To bring Sanhua to the American auto market, Tiger Lu sought help from two seasoned U.S. veterans.

If you're the new guy in a big market, it helps to have a couple of old hands to you the ropes.

So when Tiger Lu launched U.S. operations in 2006 for Sanhua Automotive, a Chinese supplier of thermal management components, he hired some old hands — in this case, a couple of savvy General Motors retirees.

How do new companies gain a foothold? They often rely on managers who already know the market.

Sanhua Automotive already supplied Delphi in North America with products from its portfolio of valves, heat exchangers and other climate control devices.

As president of the U.S. unit, Lu served those customers and had to find new ones. What to do? 

He turned to Harry Eustice and Edwin Stanke, two GM retirees who were working for Sanhua in China. They agreed to return to suburban Detroit, Lu runs a technical center in Auburn Hills.

Eustice had retired from GM after a stint in its advanced thermal technology unit. Stanke boasted several patents for climate control technology, including a patent he shared with Eustice.

Eustice spent two years with Sanhua in China, while Stanke was there for six. So the two executives understood Sanhua, Detroit and climate control technology.

"They've done a great job," said Lu. "We appreciate their contribution."

With their help, Lu developed a road map for Sanhua's expansion in North America. The company is marketing climate control components for passenger cabins, cooling systems for EV batteries and motors, and temperature control parts for transmissions. 

As automakers introduce EVs and hybrids, they will want to heat and cool those vehicles more efficiently, Lu said. Sanhua, which originally developed climate control systems for homes and buildings, is starting to gain recognition for its green technology.

In 2017, the company won an Automotive News PACE award for designing an electronic valve that can handle carbon dioxide refrigerant, which is considered environmentally friendly. 

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