The Seraph Operational Excellence Awards

Winning the Seraph Operational Excellence Award is more than a prestigious achievement — every Award signifies recognition from experts who lead our industry. Ten esteemed automotive judges have been selected to explore and examine our applicants across four key areas: Operations, Quality, Logistics, and Human Resources. We are grateful to all of the experts who have joined us in promoting the backbone of North American automotive manufacturing.

There is no cost to apply. Step one is to fill out an online assessment through The top (8) candidates from the assessment will receive a complimentary onsite assessment by the Seraph team, which is valued at $10,000. The top (5) winners will be revealed at the awards banquet on June 15th at Chroma in Detroit, MI. All winners will receive industry recognition and promoted across the press.

“It’s really an opportunity for us to go out and look at the industry, understand who is doing the right things to drive performance in operations, and highlight that North America has operational excellence in many areas.”

John Dunn President, Fleet Vehicles and Services, The Shyft Group


From CEOs to Managing Directors and HR Vice Presidents, our judges possess the experience that is critical to widespread industry success. Meet the full panel.

Industry Experts

John Dunn

President, Fleet Vehicles and Services, The Shyft Group

John has extensive experience in manufacturing growth, operational improvement, customer relations, and full product development. He currently works with the senior leadership team at The Shyft Group to guide the strategic vision of the Fleet Vehicles and Services business unit.

Jim Barbaretta                                          

General Manager, Brose

Jim is a well-known leader in manufacturing operations and quality. In his current role, Jim oversees operations at Brose Tuscaloosa, which manufactures door systems, cooling fan modules, and seat adjusters for some of the world’s largest OEMs.

Michael Fahy

CEO, DB Schenker Americas

Michael has full responsibilities for all P&L aspects across the Americas for DB Schenker, including more than 10,000 employees in 123 locations. Before his time at DB Schenker, he served as COO for an oil and gas distribution company owned by Simon Group Holdings and CEO of their technology companies.

Chris Grabmiller

CEO, StaffBright

Chris is a staffing leader with a proven track record of success in high-demand, results-driven environments. He currently serves as the president and CEO of StaffBright, a Metro Detroit-based recruiting firm.

Gloria Blanchard

HR Manager, Brose

With over 20 years of industry experience, Gloria has developed training programs that resulted in increased employee performance uniformity, employee retention, and talent and resource consolidation of cross-functional teams.

Kerry Curvey

HR Vice President, Purem

Kerry has spent over 25 years leading human resources in the automotive industry and is currently the HR Vice President for Purem, a global automotive manufacturer specializing in emission control systems and acoustic solutions.

“When you combine continuous improvement, friendly competition, and a focus on best practices and best practice sharing, you really can create a best-in-class organization.”

Kerry Curvey HR Vice President, Purem

Seraph Experts

Thomas Kowal

President — North America

Thomas leads the Seraph team with two decades of extensive management and sales operations experience in the automotive industry, alongside former Chief Operating Officers, Plant Managers, VPs of Operations, and other leaders and specialists.

Richard Payne

Managing Director

Richard brings more than 25 years of leadership and expertise in automotive and manufacturing operations across the United States and Europe. He leads client efforts in restructuring, turnaround, and operational improvement initiatives. 

Wade Phillips

President — Europe

Wade Phillips 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.


Jay Butler

Managing Director

Jay brings more than 20 years of experience in automotive, industrial, and consumer product design; manufacturing; and quality control. Prior to joining Seraph, Jay held senior management positions at Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and the Brose Group.

Great judges. Good cause.

In recognition of the time, energy, and commitment of our judges, we will be donating $5,000 in the name of each judge to a charity of their choice.

Should your organization be recognized by the automotive industry and our panel as a premier supplier? Apply for an Award today. If your organization is selected as a finalist, members of the Seraph team will perform a two-day on-site assessment of your operation. Learn more about the 2023 Seraph Operational Excellence Awards at 

February 9, 2023

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