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Andra Rush and Mike Heneka – Rush Group LLC – 2013 Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Special Achievement Award

For many, Detroit has been viewed as a lost city, one that was once great but cannot reclaim its former glory. Andra Rush and Mike Heneka never believed that and the Motor City thanks them for still seeing its magic.

In manufacturing’s entrepreneurial spirit, Rush and Heneka came together in a joint venture to form Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) whose long-term impact in Detroit could vault the city back to great heights.

Andra is a descendant of the Mohawk Tribe from Ontario, Canada, and over the last 30 years she has built Rush Group LLC into one of the largest Native American-owned companies in North America. It is that deep heritage that led Andra to seek success in business while ensuring she could leave a better world for the next generation.

“In our culture, when you make a decision, you consider its impact on the next seven generations,” Rush said. “You have to be service-driven. You think of customers every day, every minute. You think about what would make their lives or their businesses more successful.”

This innovative business philosophy led Rush Group LLC to being a pioneer in alternative methods of hiring and employee empowerment. Rush believes that every person who wants a job deserves to have one and she actively looks to bring in disadvantaged workers, military veterans and first-time job seekers; hiring those who other businesses may overlook, but who come with the passion, work ethic and commitment every business craves.

Mike Heneka is the president of Faurecia of North America, the sixth largest global supplier of automotive equipment and responsible for over 4,000 jobs in Michigan alone.

Mike’s commitment to the state has led Faurecia to invest in manufacturing opportunities across the state, including the purchase of Ford Motor Company’s Saline operations, the creation of a technology center in Auburn Hills and a customer center in Southfield.

“Michigan, for many years, has produced the best minds in engineering, manufacturing, program management and, with that, they have a love of automobiles,” Mike says. “Many times we see that dedication being passed down through generations. My own grandfather worked at Packard Motor Company, my father at Chrysler. It’s part of our DNA in Michigan.”

Through their discussions, Mike and Andra realized Detroit was the obvious location choice for their partnership.

“We had a common goal of creating jobs in a time and place when many were struggling. Giving back to our communities is a value Faurecia and the Rush Group share,” Mike says about the location choice. “Detroit is home to a workforce that is hardworking, willing and excited about reinventing their city. I was born here, so Detroit is really special to me. I take pride in the city and the potential that it has.”

With Faurecia’s Saline operations to transfer over to DMS and Andra as DMS’s newly-named president and CEO, there is great potential in our state’s manufacturing future. Over the next three years, DMS is expected to invest nearly $30 million into their Detroit operations, a process that could be responsible for creating over 500 jobs in the Motor City.

It is because of their vision for a brighter, more vibrant city and their commitment to keeping Michigan competitive that Andra and Mike are honored with the 2013 Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Special Achievement Award.

This article appeared in the May/June 2013 issue of MiMfg Magazine.