Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Bridgewater Interiors Advances Steadily Through New Challenges

© AdobeStock
CEO Ronald Hall stresses appreciation of tenured employees to bring the company through sudden turnover challenges.

Bridgewater Interiors successfully navigated the worst of covid and its customers’ microchip shortages but is pivoting to the future with challenges in its own supply-chain strategy and on the labor-retention front.

CEO Ronald Hall Jr. has steadily built the customer base of automakers for his Detroit-based seating manufacturer with consistent performance, high quality levels, a dedicated workforce and readiness to rise to the demands of new contracts reached with industry players including Stellantis and Honda.

The $2-billion enterprise is one of the largest minority-owned businesses in Detroit, owned by joint-venture partners Epsilon Technologies and Adient. Bridgewater employs about 2,200 people at facilities in Detroit; Warren, Michigan; and Eastaboga, Alabama.

Exemplary of the challenges faced by Hall are tremendous pressures from high employee turnover, which suddenly has afflicted a company that took great pride in extremely strong retention rates. Over the years, Hall has made a point of depending more than many other suppliers on the skills and intelligence of the company’s human workers, rather than moving toward automation. Bridgewater has won highly regarded quality awards for its seats from J.D. Power & Associates.

But the rapid employee turnover that has plagued companies across the U.S. economy over the last several months has affected Bridgewater as well.

“We enjoyed very low turnover across our footprint, pre-covid,” Hall told Chief Executive. “But the world has certainly changed in the last couple of years. We have replaced probably one-third of our hourly workforce at our Warren facility,” the company’s largest. “There’s been a tremendous amount of churn. We’ve had to work harder than ever before in the company’s history to recruit.”

Bridgewater’s tactics have included shift premiums, signing bonuses, retention bonuses and referral bonuses. “We’ve significantly overspent our originally budgeted amounts for labor,” Hall said. And yet Bridgewater must continue to pay overtime and continually re-work production schedules, which stresses even the most experienced employees. Hall works hard to make sure they’re as recognized and rewarded as possible.

“Their commitment and professionalism is how we’ve bene able to remain afloat, with quality levels remaining very high,” Hall said. “It’s really been remarkable to me how resilient the portion of the workforce that has chosen to remain with us has been.”

The company also has been challenged by a recently added contract to make seats for Stellantis’s Ram Classic pickup truck at Bridgewater’s facility in Warren, the northeastern-Detroit suburb that is in the heart of Stellantis production country. Stellantis, and a different company that supplies seats to Stellantis models being built adjacent to the Ram Classic, have “had launch challenges, and that has impacted the operation” at Stellantis’s truck-assembly plant in Warren that takes Bridgewater’s seats, Hall said.

“On top of the semiconductor shortage” that is affecting Stellantis and all other automakers, he said, “that has greatly limited demand” for the Ram Classic and, thus, for Bridgewater’s seats. Stellantis “has assured us they plan to return to normal volumes,” Hall said.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.