Meet Our Team


Mary E. Thomas

Mary E. Thomas

Team Member

Mary Thomas is a seasoned leader with 33 years of experience in the manufacturing environments of General Motors and Ford Motor Company. She is an expert on the operations and culture of manufacturing. Mary’s background is a composite of training and manufacturing with an emphasis on teaching a lean approach to achieve the desired results.

Mary began her career working on the assembly line at GM’s Fisher Body Fleetwood Plant where Cadillac bodies were produced. She held positions as First Line Supervisor, General Supervisor responsible for an entire floor of operations and Human Resource Advisor working with the UAW on training programs for production quality teams. She continued to work for GM in a number of leadership positions in manufacturing and training, including the launch, staffing, and production training at the new GM Detroit/Hamtramck plant. Mary was the first female Production Superintendent. She also led the effort in creating the historic Cadillac Body Drop exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum which displays the vehicle in various stages of production.

Ms. Thomas joined Ford Motor Company in 1988 and served as a Manufacturing Superintendent at the Michigan Truck Plant. She continued her leadership in Ford on the Manufacturing Launch Planning and Training Team, where she applied her skills to train the hourly workforce for the launch of the new 1995 Ford Taurus. Continuing on the Launch Team, Mary moved on to another high profile launch, the Lincoln LS. During her assignment on the Launch Team, Mary acquired significant state training grants for Ford plants in Illinois and New Jersey. On behalf of Ford Motor Company, Mary authored manufacturing training manuals for new product launches as well as a manual documenting the steps necessary to request training funds from government sources.

In 1999, she was appointed the first female Area Manager and member of the plant leadership team at Ford’s largest truck plant, Kentucky Truck. There Mary lead the largest body shop of its kind in North America. While on this assignment, Mary applied systems thinking, lean thought, and lean tools to her team of skilled trades and production operators in order to meet customer demand of Ford’s Super Duty Truck Crew Cabs.

Mary joined Dr. Hossein Nivi’s team to lead the original Virtual Factory Training Program in 2004. Under Mary’s leadership, over 2000 manufacturing employees, supervisors, hourly team leaders, and engineers attended the program. Mary’s strong belief in experiential learning, lean behaviors and lean implementation led her to the Pendaran team after her retirement from Ford Motor Company, to continue the work she began there.

Ms. Thomas has a BA from Wayne State University’s College of Lifelong Learning and holds a number of certificates of training including Ford Motor Company’s Organizational Learning Consulting Program.

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