Professor of Engineering Practice
Gary L. Cowger is a Professor of Engineering Practice and chairman and CEO of GLC Ventures, LLC, a management consultancy on business, manufacturing and technology strategy and global organizational structures and implementation. He is also immediate past chairman of the board of trustees at Kettering University (former General Motors Institute) and he serves on the board of directors of Delphi Automotive.
Mr. Cowger began his career with General Motors in 1965 at the GM Assembly Division plant in Kansas City, Kansas, as a co-op student at General Motors Institute. He held various manufacturing and engineering positions at the Fairfax Assembly Plant and the Oldsmobile Division (Lansing, Michigan) before being appointed as plant manager of the Wentzville Assembly Center in Missouri in 1982 and then complex manager at the Lordstown, Ohio, Assembly and Stamping plants in 1985. In 1987 he was appointed manufacturing manager for the Cadillac Division and was instrumental in Cadillac winning the Malcolm Baldrige Award. He was then appointed executive-in-charge of advance manufacturing engineering at the GM Technical Center.
Mr. Cowgers senior positions at General Motors included president and managing director of GM de Mexico (1994-1997), chairman of Adam Opel, AG (1998), group vice president of Manufacturing and Labor Relations (1999-2001), and president of GM North America (2001-2005). Prior to his retirement following his 45 year career, Mr. Cowger was group vice president of Global Manufacturing and Labor Relations (2005-2009); in this position he was responsible for directing all of GMs manufacturing (173 major facilities in 34 countries), manufacturing engineering and labor relations activities worldwide, and was a member of the Automotive Strategy Board and the Automotive Product Board.
Mr. Cowger was instrumental in leading the development of several manufacturing technologies, including the use of math-based tools along with the adoption of synchronous and Lean manufacturing at General Motors.
Mr. Cowger was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (2006) for his contributions to the GM Global Manufacturing System, which has dramatically improved flexibility, quality and productivity in automotive manufacturing. He is currently serving on the Committee for Advanced Vehicles and Fuels, a study being conducted for a report to Congress sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Mr. Cowger has served on many boards and continues to serve on non-profit boards in the Detroit area. Among his honors, he received the Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal of ASME/SME in 2010; he was selected Automotive Industries Executive of the Year (2004); received the Society of Automotive Engineers Manufacturing Leadership Award (2003) and the Shien-Ming Wu Foundations Wu Manufacturing Leadership Award (2001).
Mr. Cowger received his Bachelor's degree in Engineering at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan in 1970. He earned his Master's degree in Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a Sloan Fellow in Cambridge, Mass. in 1978. He holds an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters degree (2002) from Lindenwood College (St. Charles, Missouri) and an honorary Doctor of Engineering (2007) from Kettering University.