She is perhaps the most brilliant manufacturing executive you’ve never known.
She is so skilled that she seemed too good to be real, a global CEO said, and so he considered not hiring her.
Jd Marhevko, 57, of Saline is a woman who easily steps into size 12 steel-toe boots, a hard hat and a fire-retardant coat to walk the factory floor on one day, and then pivots to a business suit to meet with investors the next.
She changes jobs as needed, going to where crisis takes her.
The job title is unmemorable. But what she does has long-term impact.
One boss sent her to a factory to help resolve serious quality and production problems that threatened the future of an Illinois site. She worked closely with hourly and salaried workers, production, quality and engineering teams to identify root causes and fix the hot mess of a situation, and saved 650 jobs.
“She isn’t afraid to go to where the war is and work the front lines,” said Rick Dauch, CEO of Delphi Technologies, which designs and builds vehicle propulsion systems, in an interview from his office in London. “At the same time, she’ll go to the board of directors in New York City and talk to CEOs and CFOs and explain why they need to invest and not close the factories.”
Dauch has hired her twice, which is shocking only because his first encounter when she seemed too good to be true was so unusual. She’s so well-read, so well-educated and she’s got all the credentials, but Dauch wondered whether she had the grit needed to do the job. In the end, he trusted his gut.
So Marhevko asked her new boss where he wanted her to go. He sent her in the winter of 2012 to Rockford, Illinois, to a hot metal iron casting plant with so many quality problems that the operation was on a death watch.
“I didn’t see her physically for 60 days,” Dauch said. “It was a beast of a plant that started in the 1820s and was left to rot by the previous owners over two decades. We chose to fix it instead of closing it and getting rid of 650 jobs.”
When Marhevko left, her work complete, the plant went from producing more than one bad part for every 10 made at 13% scrap to less than 3% within two years, dropping to 1% within five years. She worked with the teams at Rockford to assess the hydraulics equipment, layout structure on the assembly line and tooling.
That was when Marhevko was a senior vice president of global quality and environmental health and safety for the $1.3 billion Accuride, which builds wheels, wheel ends and braking components for vehicles.
Now she’s vice president of quality at the $4.4 billion Delphi Technologies.
Quality executives can make the difference between having a flawless production system or a money-losing disaster.
Ford Motor Co., for example, publicly acknowledged its botched launch of the Explorer and Lincoln Aviator in fall 2019, when the company had to ship vehicles from Chicago Assembly to Flat Rock to do postproduction fixes. The situation was blamed for a disappointing earnings report, followed by an executive shake-up.
Quality review – what Marhevko does – is usually unnoticed by customers when things go right and felt significantly when things go wrong.
The smell of oil on a garage floor reminds Marhevko of her grandfather.
He told little Jeanenne Marie that she needed to know how to operate everything, “so I would not be an educated a– telling a working man how to do his job,'” Marhevko said. “‘Grandpa spoke many languages and swore well in all of them. He had quite a shop in his garage” in Harrison Township.
He showed her how to change oil, rotate tires, bypass an air filter and stick a screwdriver into the butterfly of the carburetor to burn off excess fuel.
“We were avid fishermen on Lake St. Clair,” Marhevko said. “One summer, I failed to properly hook up the boat motor to the hoist after coming in from a boating trip. The motor sank. After a few dives and a patient grandfather, we had it rigged back up. It was full of sand and strips of slimy seaweed. Grandpa made me take apart the motor, dry it all off and rebuild it that day in the garage.”
She studied mechanical engineering at Oakland University, an…