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Detroit-based auto supplier Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C. (No. 22 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with $167.4 million in sales) continues to break new ground. The firm secured a $400 million contract from Chrysler Group, a division of DaimlerChrysler, which marks the largest deal ever awarded to a minority business by the American automaker. Bridgewater made history a year ago when it snared a $500 million annual contract with Ford Motor Co., the largest contract ever awarded to a minority auto supplier by an automobile manufacturer.
Bridgewater’s contract with Chrysler is for work to be completed over a period of five years. Bridgewater will supply the overhead systems for Chrysler’s 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee and for a future Chrysler vehicle that has yet to be named.
“Chrysler looks for a supplier who can deliver on quality, cost, technology, and delivery,” says Jethro Joseph, Chrysler’s senior manager for diversity supplier development.
Bridgewater’s consistent recognition for quality work, coupled with the automobile industry’s desire for diversity, has fueled the company’s success, says Bridgewater President and CEO Ronald Hall. “[In] the automotive industry, [there is] tremendous competition,” says Hall. “So there is a tremendous amount of interest by the OEMs to have minority content in their cars. Not only is it the right thing to do socially but it makes a lot of economic sense — empower people economically and then, hopefully, they’ll turn around and buy American cars.”
The deal underscores the success of minority suppliers in recent years, says Harriet R. Michel, president of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. “Deals of this size demonstrate that minority supplier development works,” she says.