Joe Muscedere is General Manager – Foundation Brakes, Front Steer Axles and Wheel Ends for Meritor. Headquartered in Troy, MI, Meritor is a leading global supplier of drivetrain, mobility, braking and aftermarket solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. In the following Q&A, Joe shares with us his valuable insights on the topics of leadership and success.
TBR: What is your current role and area of responsibility?
JM: My role has overall P&L responsibility for the Front Drivetrain business unit in North America for Class 5-8 commercial vehicles. This includes design, manufacture and distribution for foundation drum, air disc and hydraulic brakes. It also includes front steer axles, wheel ends and integrated solutions for this segment.
TBR: How would you describe your leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
JM: My leadership style is collaborative. I like to hear what people think – at all levels. I find that when I combine what they’re telling me with strategic thinking, intuition and experience, I make the best decisions. I like to say that I work for my team(s) as much as they work for me. If I make my team(s) successful by providing clear direction connected to a common vision coupled with resources or tools – and remove obstacles to get the job done, then the business unit will be successful.
TBR: What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
JM: We have been the leading supplier of brake solutions in this space since I have been with Meritor – almost 30 years. We have not achieved that run by luck. That has been accomplished by having leading edge technology that drives value for our customers and then servicing those customers through our Driveforce team located throughout North America. Our biggest challenge is also what drives us as our largest opportunity which is to remain number one in the eyes of our customers.
Meritor, along with our joint venture Meritor WABCO, design and develop leading edge safety and performance solutions for class 5-8 commercial vehicles. Our service is second to none.
TBR: What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
JM: I look for the ‘X’ factor. My greatest fulfillment as I enter my 29th year with the company is coaching and developing. This is evident at every level starting at entry level or co-op. In my opinion, you can develop into a good leader but it takes someone born special to be a Great leader. I look for people that first and foremost deliver results – you have to actually get things across the goal line. Just as important, however, is how the team responds to you and whether you demonstrate leadership behaviors. This is irrespective of reporting structure or if you are the team leader or just a team member. Lastly, I look for selflessness and giving credit rather than taking credit. This makes people continue to follow and enjoy working with you. It sustains performance and most of all helps creates a workplace culture we all like to spend time in.
TBR: What was your first job in Industry?
JM: My first job was as a co-op student worker at our former Tilbury, Ontario foundation air brake factory. Those early years included welding or fabricating brake shoes and cam brackets, machining camshafts and assembling brake systems. This was Meritor’s legacy Rockwell International. This led to the position of production manager on the midnight shift where I believe my leadership skills were honed. I think shop floor leadership is a valuable learning tour that should not be overlooked.
TBR: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at age 20?
JM: Do not stress about your career or what you want to do in life. You may find the passion that drives you in the most unlikely industries or jobs. I knew from day one that I needed a career that involved people, making things and teaching, developing others and helping society. Who would have thought back then it was making brakes for heavy trucks.
TBR: Name your favorite / recent book(s) you have read:
JM: Today and Tomorrow by Henry Ford
TBR: What is your favorite quote and why?
JM: Not sure – let’s go with “Just do It”. First thing that popped in my head.
TBR: What has been the biggest contributor to your success at this point?
JM: Developing a personal connection with people and earning their respect, trust and friendship. This goodwill and rapport has been priceless through all my years.
TBR: Tell us a something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
JM: Meritor was recently recognized by the State of Michigan as a Veteran-Friendly employer. Meritor not only makes a commitment to recruiting and training military veterans but also actively supports various veteran organizations through corporate contributions and event sponsorships.
Earlier this year, Meritor made a $50,000 contribution to Focus: HOPE to train 14 people from minority and low-income communities in southeast Michigan for careers as truck drivers. Meritor CEO and President Jay Craig is a board member for Focus Hope. . Focus Hope pledges intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty, and injustice. Its goal is to help build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection.
Headquartered in Troy, Mich., U.S., Meritor is a leading global supplier of drivetrain, mobility, braking and aftermarket solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. With more than a 100-year legacy of providing innovative products that offer superior performance, efficiency and reliability, the company serves commercial truck, trailer, defense, specialty and aftermarket customers around the world. Common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol MTOR.