Fifty and some years ago he started making brackets for sun visors in a garage; today he develops ‘alternative transportation’ EVs for major automakers.
Frank Stronach is no stranger to adversity and controversy. Once an unknown immigrant from Austria, he is now one of the best known people in Canada; a member of the Order of Canada. Once a tool-and-die maker, he now is an honorary Doctor of Engineering.
“His focus, his intensity, his instinct are something of a phenomenon,” said Dennis Mills; “And I say that as someone who has worked for four Canadian prime ministers and met most leaders of the industrialized world.” Mills has known and worked with Stronach on and off since 1984 and is now vice chairman of one of the many Magna divisions.
From that garage, -make that small shop-, has grown the second largest automotive supply conglomerate in North America after Delphi. With their headquarter in Toronto’s suburb of Aurora, Magna International now has in excess of 250 factories in 25 countries; most operate under their own individual name. About one fifth of these firms are so called development companies.
In the early 1980s Magna pioneered the design, development and engineering of parts and systems in addition to the production of these items.
When Chrysler was revived by Lee Iacocca, Magna assisted in the design and development of the interior for a new type of vehicle, the minivan; the interiors are still done by Magna.
In addition to that, the Austrian division, Magna Steyr, also assembles the Chrysler minivan for the European market. This happened after the former Steyr-Daimler-Puch group of companies was broken up in 1990, and the automobile production went to Magna. In the town of Steyr Magna yearly assembles about one quarter of a million so called niche-vehicles for various automakers. These do not fit into the millions of mass-produced models of the auto giants; the SUVs for BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler and Jeep fall into that category. Assembly work for some Saab and Mini models is also done at the Austrian Magna division. For Aston Martin the versatile Magna-Steyr produces not only the chassis, but assembles the complete four-door ‘Rapide’ Coupé; only the V12 engine and the six-speed automatic transmission are supplied.
At yet another factory in Graz, Austria, Canada’s Magna produces the new Peugeot sports coupe RCZ, after developing and engineering the complete car for the French automaker.