Meet Our Judges – The 2024 Operational Excellence Awards

The Operational Excellence Awards was created to celebrate automotive suppliers across North America that are achieving remarkable things within their plant operations.

Each year, the Seraph team carefully selects our judging panel who are responsible for selecting our top 5 winning plants. Our judges are selected based on their depth of automotive experience, keen knowledge of running efficient manufacturing operations, including their specific expertise within plant operations, and ability to manage large teams.

We are grateful to all our judges for their time and commitment towards promoting and celebrating excellence in manufacturing.

Last year’s winners emphasized the substantial contribution our judges made to the evaluation process. Receiving their stamp of approval validated that their plant operations were achieving remarkable things.

Meet our Judges:        
  • Jim Barbaretta, General Manager, Brose – Jim is an award-winning automotive leader, with over 30 years of experience in manufacturing operations and quality.
  • Michael Fahy, CEO, Neovia Logistics – Michael leads a global logistics team with 80 facilities in 20 countries. Michael brings extensive solution design, process engineering and has extensive business development experience.
  • Chris Grabmiller, CEO, StaffBright – Chris is a staffing leader with a proven track record of success in high-demand, results-driven environments. Chris leads his team in managing a diverse portfolio of companies to align their talent acquisition strategy with their overall business strategy.
  • Gloria Blanchard, HR Manager, Brose – With over 20 years experience in human resources, Gloria has developed training programs that resulted in increased employee performance uniformity, employee retention, and talent and resource consolidation of cross-functional teams.
  • Brad Tolley, Operating Partner, Lake State Partners – Leveraging over 30 years of experience in industrial manufacturing, Brad most recently served as President of Shiloh Industries, an automotive Tier 1 supplier. Brad has a diverse background including global operations, corporate strategy, business development, engineering, and program management.
Meet our Seraph Judges:
  • Thomas Kowal, President, North America — Thomas leads the Seraph team with two decades of extensive management and sales operations experience in the automotive industry.
  • Wade Phillips, President, Europe — Wade leads Seraph’s European operations and brings more than 25 years of experience in the automotive and manufacturing space. Wade has extensive P&L responsibility at Tier 1 automotive suppliers and a proven track record of developing and scaling new business.
  • Richard Payne, Managing Director — Richard brings more than 25 years of leadership and expertise in automotive and manufacturing operations leading client efforts in restructuring, turnaround, and operational improvement initiatives.
  • Jay Butler, Managing Director — Jay brings more than 20 years of experience in automotive, industrial, and consumer product design, manufacturing, and quality control.

Great Judges. Good Cause.

In recognition of our judge’s time and commitment to the Operational Excellence Awards, we donate $5,000 to a charity of their choice. We are proud to support such incredible causes.

2024 Selected Charities

  • Special Olympics – Michigan
  • Mary Free Bed – Rehabilitation
  • Humble Design – Detroit
  • Folds Of Honor – Motor City
  • Silver Lining Solutions 4 You – Detroit 

Who Should Apply:  

Automotive Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, including automotive aftermarket manufactures, that have a plant(s) operation in North America that are achieving great things in one of 4 areas: operations, logistics, human resources, and quality. Each plant applying is a single application, so multiple applications from the same organization can apply.  

Plants that are interested in applying should be achieving 80% OEE.


Applications are being accepted December 4 – March 8, 2024.

It’s absolutely free to apply….with tremendous upside in being selected for an award.  


Apply today:  2024 Operational Excellence Awards visit our website. 

January 17, 2024

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