Detroit Manufacturing Systems relies on being GIFTED and RICH

Joseph Gray
March 22, 2023
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Photo courtesy Detroit Manufacturing Systems

Photo courtesy Detroit Manufacturing Systems


Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) is a Tier 1 automotive supplier instilled with the core values of diversity and community engagement. This business philosophy can be found in the company's acronyms GIFTED (Gratitude, Integrity, Fun, Teamwork, Excellence, and Diversity) and RICH (Respect, Innovation, Commitment and Humility). Learn about how DMS empowers employees while manufacturing critical components for the likes of Ford, Volvo and more.

Every successful business venture is built on a sturdy foundation, and for Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS), that bedrock is formed in the acronyms GIFTED and RICH.

“It is our guide,” said Chief Financial Officer Scott Cieslak. “It’s something we live every day.”

GIFTED stands for Gratitude, Integrity, Fun, Teamwork, Excellence and Diversity. RICH stands for Respect, Innovation, Commitment and Humility.

The leadership team took two-and-a-half days to develop these ideals that Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Smith formed into a framework in which the company can operate.

“We apply these standards to everything we do,” Cieslak said. “We apply them to our leadership and employees. We reference them daily in our meetings. We evaluate our employees on them. This is who we are.”

DMS is a large-scale Tier 1 automotive supplier and value-added assembler that provides welding and injection molding services to the auto industry. Its biggest client is Ford Motor Company, providing entire cockpits found in the Ford F150 and Lightning (electric truck).

Other products include the Ranger consoles and instrument panels for the Navigator, Explorer, Aviator and Mustang. The company has recently begun working with Volvo on its heavy truck line.

“We build and service products that touch 1.5 million vehicles per year,” Cieslak said. “We deal with a high-flow business with materials moving through on a daily basis with a focus on high-quality, and on time delivery to the customer.”

The company sports more than 2.3 million large-scale assemblies and a billion dollars in annual sales.

A 600,000-square-foot facility in Detroit houses the company's operation, which includes manual, semiautomatic, and fully automated systems that handle the assembly processes. The facility also features 34 Plastic Injection Molding presses with 180-2,500 ton capacity, and ultrasonic, vibration and hot plate methods used for welding.

“We use state-of-the-art automation, vision systems, cameras and software checking,” Cieslak said. “We have it all in our building. We use the finest of what’s available in the industry.”

Supporting that high-volume production system is a high-velocity global supply chain that sees an inventory turnover of 30 times a year and involves more than 150 vendors. The Kitting, Vendor-Managed Inventory system through Kanban Logistics organizes the supply chain.

DMS dedicated 450,00 square feet of factory space for warehousing, which utilizes digital management and an electronic data interchange to organize thousands of parts across multiple lines to meet customers’ demands.

The company balances the supply chain, warehousing and production into a system with a 99.89% customer acceptance rate.  

“We strive for perfect quality in everything we do from the products we ship to our customer interactions,” Cieslak said.

The company is looking to add to its portfolio as well. Cieslak said he couldn’t comment on specifics, but the leadership team is looking to expand into the medical and defense industries. He said success comes from improving current processes while looking for new avenues of growth.

“Our job is to create solutions,” he explained. “We look to what the market needs and we look to fill that need. If we didn’t do (automotive parts manufacturing), we’d be doing something else. We continue to look at what we do to add value to the market. We are always challenging our position within the market.”

The Influence of Diversity

Achieving such a high acceptance rate with parts assemblies numbering in the millions while planning for the future is no easy task. Problems with logistics, advancing technology, finding quality employees and entering new markets are daily obstacles.

An inclusive and diverse leadership team and workforce provide the solutions to the day-to-day difficulties facing DMS. Its five-person leadership team has two women and two African American men, including Smith, among its numbers. Its 1,500-member workforce comprises 88% minorities, and more than 60% of the company’s employees live in Detroit. That mix of experience helped lead the company to success during its 11 years in business.

“It is absolutely a necessity to have,” Cieslak said. “You have to have diversity. You need the generational age gaps, different genders and different backgrounds. Ideas don’t come from homogeneous thinking. When everyone is thinking the same things, you don’t get creative. Our ideas and innovation come from diversity. Different backgrounds help solve problems.”

A Little History

In 2012, Rush Group Limited, L.L.C. and Faurecia formed Detroit Manufacturing Systems. It began assembling world-class molded components in a warehouse in an under-served community in Detroit. Cofounder Andra Rush quickly grew its team from 25 to several hundred.

In 2018, Rush sold her majority share to Smith. The company’s website posted its vision under his leadership:

“We exist to relentlessly prove that passion and purpose are the forces that create great people, teams and companies that will transform the world. We do this through our GIFTED and RICH principles. This means that at DMS., we are GIFTED  people with a RICH culture who treat people the way they want to be treated. This ultimately lends to a fun and safe work environment where team members are encouraged to live their best lives and empowered to do their best work. Ours is a culture which loves people and uses money, and not the other way around.”

Cielak added, “Bruce (Smith) is a philanthropic person. His goal is to help others, not make money, and help those around us. He has a powerful message that we are going to run a people-first business.”

Smith holds an MBA from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University. He has 30 years of experience in the manufacturing industry.

Before joining DMS, Smith worked closely with leading private equity firms and entrepreneurs, holding key executive management positions, including president and CEO of BTM Company, a global leader of precision-engineered tooling and production equipment for sheet metal clinching, piercing and inserted fastener applications. With Smith at the helm, BTM grew nearly 40 percent in three years.

Previously, Smith served as president and CEO of Elyria & Hodge Foundries, a provider of highly engineered castings, president and CEO of automotive supplier Piston Group, a modular assembler of automotive components, president and COO of Guilford Mills, a supplier of automotive interior fabrics, and president and COO of United Plastics Group, an engineered injection molding company. He significantly grew revenues and profitability in these roles by developing “blue ocean” strategies and implementing lean manufacturing methods. Most recently, Bruce received the honor of being elected to the Board of Directors for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, one of the region’s largest and most influential forces powering the economy for Southeast Michigan.

The Employees, The Culture, The Community

The company recognizes its monthly All-Stars and MVPs from its workforce and rewards its highest production team. During the past few years, it has awarded more than $1,000,000 in scholarships and to charitable donations and collected toys, socks and gloves for those in need.

DMS provides its employees with the tools for success by providing on-site training to allow individuals to advance in their careers. Team members are recognized when they achieve excellent results by rewarding exemplary team members with an annual “All-Star Employee” and “MVP Employee” ceremony and celebration. The company loves new ideas and rewards any team member who submits an idea for improvement and growth with prizes and recognition. It also provides its employees with training to advance their careers and empower each team member  to do their best work.

Since 2012, over 500 team members received promotions because of their talent and valuable contributions. The employees have volunteered their personal time by donating to local food banks, participating in community cleanups and supporting the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help fight breast cancer.

Cieslak has been in the automotive production industry for 28 years, spending the last five with DMS. He said this past decade had been the best time of his career.

“What makes DMS different is that our culture rewards you to become the best, most authentic version of yourself,” he explained. “Truly a people-first culture. When people bring their best every day, they bring the best for the company and what’s best for the customer. In terms of bringing your best is different from what I see in other companies.”

For more information about Detroit Manufacturing Systems, visit

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Joseph Gray
Joseph Gray

Joe Gray is a contributing writer for Automation Alley. He is a journalist and held positions of reporter, copy editor, sports editor and online editor. He is a published author of two children’s books and a book of short stories.

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