Case Studies

John Jaffe – Forvia

Facilities director builds on his humble foundation

When John Jaffe briefly played football in college, he wanted a job that would keep him in shape during the off season.

So, the Purdue University undergrad found the most labor intensive work he could—pouring concrete. He never expected his part-time job would lay the foundation for his career.

“A lot of people in my position come from a business background,” says Jaffe, who’s now the North American director of facilities for Forvia. “Because I’ve managed so much construction, I can now walk on site as an owner and spot issues others can’t. I can review construction documents with architects and engineers and recommend design solutions.”

He stayed in his concrete contractor job for five years and graduated from Purdue with a degree in construction management. He’s worked his way up, having been a laborer, finisher, foreman, superintendent and project manager. He now represents Forvia as the owner of its properties.

Jaffe has been with Forvia, which rebranded from Faurecia in 2022 when it merged with HELLA, for nine years. Forvia is the world’s second largest supplier of exhaust systems in the auto industry; it also supplies automotive seating, interior systems, electronics and lighting. The global company, based in France, has 257 industrial sites in 33 countries and 39 research and development centers.

“I organize and coordinate with our business units locally and abroad,” Jaffe says. “We are constantly collaborating with company experts around the world to continuously improve our products, process and footprint efficiency through lessons learned and intelligent engineering.”

Industry of the future

Jaffe manages the budget for all facility upgrades at Forvia’s 17 plants in North America—one in Canada, five in Mexico and the others in the U.S. He also manages leases and facilities maintenance and works to ensures all the facilities match company standards. As needed, he also works with Forvia’s legal team on matters related to facilities.

Recently, Jaffe has been supporting Forvia’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. While he couldn’t disclose much information when speaking with Blueprint in January, he says the company is building a new research and development center focused on hydrogen fuel cells. In addition to the building being carbon neutral, he says using hydrogen to power vehicles will help reduce Forvia’s carbon footprint as well.

“It’s a clean energy that’s readily available,” Jaffe says. “As the demand for exhaust systems goes down, it will open up a whole new industry for us.”

In supporting the new build, Jaffe has hired the design team and commercial real estate broker in coordination with other leaders in the emissions business unit, as well as leaders at company headquarters in France. He’ll also hire the general contractor, engineers, developers and consultants.

With the research and development center, and with all the buildings he manages, he works closely with Forvia’s insurance carrier to manage risk and ensure compliance.

Being of service and support

In working on large projects like this, and in overseeing daily operations, Jaffe works closely with a team of plant managers and a handful of contract employees. Each plant manager oversees facility maintenance teams and managers.

“I’ve always believed in service-style leadership,” Jaffe says. “Good leaders ask their team for help and work together with them to solve problems.”

He often visits each plant to see what the teams are working on and what they need help with. The visits also allowed him to ensure all systems, such as combustibles and sprinklers, are safe and up to code. He also looks for areas that can be made more sustainable, and has added LED lighting, solar panels and building management systems that reduce energy use.

“I’ve got to be there to help the people on the front lines who are making the parts,” he says. “They know what they need, so I make sure they have those resources and receive support.”

Jaffe says his experience working at every level of construction and facilities management informs his management style. After the concrete pouring job, he moved up through the industry and in 2010 became senior project manager at Johnson Controls. He stayed with the manufacturing company for four years before joining Forvia (which was Faurecia at the time) in 2014 as a senior industrial project manager. He was promoted to his current role in 2019.

Outside of work, Jaffe enjoys spending time with his wife, Daphne, and their two children, Johnny and Breanna Faith. He coaches his teenage son’s traveling baseball team and supports his daughter’s burgeoning music career. He even put his construction skills to work as he built a sound studio in the basement of their Indianapolis home.

As his kids follow their passions, Jaffe says he’s glad he’s stuck with his and been able to make a career of it.

“Forvia is very well known in the industry and I’m proud to be part of it,” he says. “The people here are some of the most talented I’ve ever worked with.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. III 2023 Edition here.

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