Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
Road to Palm Springs
Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Mary Petrovich spearheaded the successful transformation of a failing company in a male-dominated industry. AxleTech International, a 100-year-old global supplier of planetary axles, advanced suspension systems and other drive train components, was facing extinction in 2002 when it was acquired by Wynnchurch Capital, which tapped Petrovich to lead the turnaround effort.
In her first year as CEO, Petrovich introduced new practices, including the negotiation of a 33% reduction in US labor wages and benefits and a 10% reduction in materials costs. Despite the recession, she had the business generating cash and achieving a 10% operating margin after just one year. She continued to head up the company after its 2005 acquisition by the Carlyle Group, implementing a bold strategy to attack new markets and win new customers.
Under Petrovich’s leadership, AxleTech has quadrupled annual revenue to $525 million since 2002 and is now the leading supplier of planetary axle and suspension systems in the US, with approximately 1,000 employees. Today, 40% of its business is from markets outside the US, and 65% comes from the military and aftermarket segments, up from 20% at inception. The company was sold to General Dynamics in December 2008.