A Conversation With Cheryl Merchant

Cheryl Merchant, President & CEO, Hope Global


Cheryl Merchant has been in automotive manufacturing for 28 years. She began as a production supervisor at General Motors, where she was the only woman working second shift at that GM plant in downtown Detroit. She quickly advanced her career working at Mazda, Ford Motor Co. and then at Lear Corporation.

She climbed through the ranks in various departments until she was the Plant Manager of a 3,500 employee operation in Mexico making automotive seat covers at a rate of 20,000 vehicles per week. In addition to Mexico, Cheryl has also managed manufacturing plants in Canada, Poland, England, and in various locations in the US.

Cheryl is the President & CEO of Hope Global, a midmarket company located in Cumberland, RI. The company manufactures engineered textile solutions for automotive, commercial, and industrial use.

Under Cheryl's leadership for the past twelve years, the company’s name has changed from Hope Webbing to Hope Global Engineered Textile Solutions and has more than doubled in revenue and expanded its operations with plants now in Rhode Island, Mexico, Czech Republic, and China, as well as Sales offices in Detroit, Brazil and Asia. During the past years of global economic struggle, Hope has streamlined its operations and organizational structures to survive and become even stronger.

During her career, Cheryl has dealt with operation start-ups, shutdowns, mergers, relocations, as well as multiple company acquisitions, and with more products than is possible to list.

Cheryl is an active member and a past-chair of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Rhode Island Commodores, a Trustee of Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, and has sat on the Governor’s Economic Development Council for five years.


Courage, consistency and no playing favorites

Cheryl talks about how it takescourage to admit your failings and it also take courage to define what success really means to you.  She also talks about the need for having plans and consistent practices that are applicable for and applied to the entire organization.

How have you seen companies handle it when there is not enought revenue being generated to support the existing staffing level. Have you seen or have you implemented "Heartfelt" approaches to "rightsizing" the organization? What practices do you believe work best and why?  

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