Not many auto manufacturing presidents can boast the kind of tenure Stephen Carlisle has had with General Motors. The current president of General Motors of Canada traces his start with the company back to 1982 when he was a teenage co-op engineering student.

"I went to the University of Waterloo and did a series of rotations in Oshawa," Carlisle said of his start with the automaker more than three decades ago. "I cycled through divisions like product engineering, manufacture engineering, quality, sales distribution, logistics and more."

The Ontario born and educated Carlisle was hired into the manufacturing engineering division in 1986 and moved into U.S. operations in 1991. After earning a master's degree in business administration from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his work with GM took him to positions in Singapore, Shanghai and Bangkok where he served as the president of Southeast Asia Operations from 2007 through 2010. Carlisle returned to the U.S. in 2010 to join the global product planning and program management division.

GM commits to $560 million investment

President of GM leans against car
GM's new Canadian president Stephen Carlisle

His appointment to president of General Motors of Canada came late last November bringing his journey with the Canadian office full circle. And given his history, it was fitting that one of his first official announcements was a $560 million investment in the CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.

GM committed $560 million to prepare CAMI for the next generation Chevrolet Equinox. Of the total investment, the automaker will invest $190 million directly in manufacturing equipment and tools and $370 million in vendor tooling with suppliers in Canada.

Calling the decision a vote of confidence in its employees and future in Ontario, the new money brings the current investment program at the CAMI Assembly plant to more than $800 million. GM had previously announced $250 million for a new body shop and flexible manufacturing equipment and tooling, converting the manufacturing facility to support future vehicle production. This conversion plan was first announced in March 2013.

Continued investment illustrates Ontario's attractive business environment

Carlisle said the current environment in Ontario looks very attractive for continued investment in the company's manufacturing footprint.

"The province, as it pertains to auto, has tremendous capability for R&D and innovation," he said. "Extend that through this high-tech and advanced technology corridor you can see through Waterloo, Toronto and up to Ottawa and it is very impressive."

Also key in his mind is the education base and coordination among institutions with respective specialties. There are currently nine universities and 24 colleges with innovative auto-related research initiatives and training programs. "What you can find in Ontario in terms of employee base, technology and suppliers you can't find anywhere else in North America save Silicon Valley," states Carlisle.

His experience in other world markets gives him the added context which shapes his positive opinion of the province's manufacturing capabilities.

Ontario continues to offer opportunity to auto-related companies that serve assemblers and parts manufacturers. Meanwhile, the convergence of manufacturing and IT also presents companies not traditionally associated with the automotive sector the chance to develop state-of-the-art automotive technology to meet consumer demand for greater connectivity and safety.

Ontario's automotive industry is thriving

Recent numbers peg the number of Ontario-based automotive parts plants at approximately 700+ with another 500+ tool, die and mould makers. Over 98,000 people are directly employed in the auto manufacturing sector (vehicle assembly and parts). Ontario's award-winning auto plants benefit from a highly skilled workforce. Ontario is home to five major automakers, three of which, including GM, have recently announced considerable investments.



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