Mike Winkler, VP of North America Purchasing, on Compassion, Collaboration, and the Future of the Supply Chain

Mike Winkler
Vice President and Division Head
North America Purchasing Group (NAPG)
DENSO

Profile:
Mike started his career in 1990 at DENSO’s thermal manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, Michigan, as a buyer for materials, repair, and operations. In 2015 he transitioned to his current role as vice president of DENSO’s North America Purchasing Group, leading North America Purchasing for all business groups of DENSO. In this role, he creates strategies to help support DENSO’s regional growth and enhance supplier relationships.

Where he works:
North America Purchasing Group
NAPG has more than 100 employees in the U.S., Canada and Mexico who collaborate to build strong supplier partnerships and offer customers quality products and services through the procurement of parts, materials, equipment, and services.

 

Caring for People: Compassion and Collaboration
Compassion and collaboration are the future of Purchasing.

It's important to recognize that our suppliers are people and genuinely interested in meeting our expectations. In the past, however, that has sometimes been overlooked. 

But if we show compassion and be a collaborative partner, it helps our suppliers feel more supported and comfortable working with us. We will also find it creates more trust, sharing and a better, more collaborative environment in which to develop technology, benefitting everyone. 

I developed this belief over time, working with my own staff. When I came to DENSO’s North American headquarters in 2015, I became part of and began to lead a much larger team filled with different people, dynamics, and perspectives. 

I had to find an approach to balance those elements. I took time to understand who each team member was, what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go, their personal challenges and what was important to them. This helped build trust within the organization. As trust increased, we started to better understand each other, which helped us transition people to various positions that made them happier. People who were previously frustrated were able to find more fulfilling and valuable roles after having a chance to talk, allowing us to make positive changes together.

I believe the same goes for our suppliers. By engaging our business partners and suppliers in a similar fashion, we promote more positive output and beneficial discussions.

People Come First
In 2021, the state of Texas suffered a major power crisis during severe winter storms, leaving many without water, food, and heat. This of course also created supply disruptions, especially in the plastics area.

The first thing our DENSO team did was ask our business partners if they needed anything from us – water, blankets, any type of support needed to provide for their families. 

The number one priority was taking care of our business partners and their families, not products.

This is who we are at DENSO, It is part of our DNA. This helped our business partners understand we would do what it took to work with them through the disaster. When their immediate needs were met, we began talking about supply and together we started to get creative. Our business partners were more open to speaking with us because they knew we cared about them as people first and foremost.

 

  • Fun fact: Mike has a 70 acre farm with alpacas, llamas, chickens, goats, guinea hens, beehives and vegetable gardens.

Building Blocks for Growth
The supply chain is critical outside of DENSO. We want to make sure our communities have healthy businesses so they can thrive. This requires constant evolution. Evolving business and building the community through more value-added type of work is important. It creates building blocks for growth.

The more we embrace the DENSO Spirit values of Foresight, Credibility and Collaboration with our supply chain partners, the more we can spread these principles to contribute to that growth and society. How we treat others is important to our partners and to DENSO.

Q. What do you like about DENSO?
We can be who we want to be. We are who we develop ourselves to be. I have been allowed to experiment, to fail, to succeed. I have made tons of mistakes in the past and it has helped me grow. That is the benefit of DENSO – it gives you space to develop and grow and work in a positive direction.

I am proud of the NAPG team and the people they are continuing to develop into. I am proud of what they each contribute individually. They are each growing in their own positive direction. 

 






Comment from an associate who knows him well

Jeremy Wilson, Director, NAPG
Mike was first my supervisor in 1999 and since then he has been my manager, vice president and a dependable mentor. Mike has worked diligently to create a “One DENSO” team approach within NAPG, with a culture focused on partnerships that drive sustainable value in North America and globally for DENSO. It is obvious to those who work with Mike that he is extremely passionate about the health and well-being of others through the way he asks thoughtful questions and prudently listens.