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  • Powerhouse Q&A with Dong Ryeol Choi

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    President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Montgomery Dong Ryeol Choi was part of the team that helped open HMMA in Montgomery. His return in 2017 to fill his new role was a happy homecoming for the veteran Hyundai Motor Company employee.

    How long have you been President and CEO of HMMA? I was appointed President and CEO in November 2017.  Between August 2002 and February 2007, I was part of the original team that helped start up HMMA. I’ve renewed many friendships since my return to Montgomery.

    What are the duties and responsibilities of your position? As President and CEO, I have many direct and indirect responsibilities to lead HMMA’s efforts to achieve our key performance indicators. Achieving performance targets for productivity, quality, cost, safety and staff development contribute to a sustainable business model. I must also motivate our team members to not only work for their paycheck but to take personal pride in supporting their family, giving back to the community and producing a product that is considered premier in the automotive industry. I always believe providing a safe and stable work environment creates a workplace that inspires all of our team members to bring the best Hyundai vehicles to life.

    What is your favorite part of your work? I always like real improvements that are visible. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, “Don’t expect better results tomorrow by doing the same thing as yesterday.” Whether it’s a product or a working environment or a process, I encourage our team members to bring forth ideas that can drive improvements from the ground up. I often say to my leadership team, “The captain who avoids the iceberg is actually more heroic than the hero who saves people on the Titanic.” HMMA is a giant, ship-like organization with many small heroes, from team leaders to executives to suppliers, who are working together to steer our company toward longterm success.

    What drove HMMA to expand in Montgomery and open the new cylinder head machining plant? Since HMMA’s groundbreaking in 2002, Alabama and Montgomery have praised Hyundai Motor Company’s decision to bring automotive manufacturing to central Alabama. Our past investments led to nearly 3,000 fulltime jobs at our plant and a significant economic impact on the River Region. Because Montgomery has become a second home for Hyundai Motor Company, it was logical to invest another $388 million at our plant to launch the powerful and fuel-efficient “SmartStream” 4-cylinder engine, for both the Sonata and Santa Fe.

    How will this positively impact the area? This project is another example of high-tech manufacturing that is transforming not only the automotive industry but other businesses around the world. At the same time, it demonstrates Hyundai’s commitment to solidifying Alabama’s Top 5 ranking among the states for the production of cars and light trucks. We are proud this project and past investments have improved the quality of life of so many in the River Region. Every investment is rooted in producing better products that lead to a sustainable business model and instill pride among our team members.

    What is your impression of Montgomery’s current business climate? I’m about 90 percent satisfied with Montgomery’s business environment. Montgomery’s rail and highway access has effectively served our business’ infrastructure and logistics needs. The River Region has embraced the numerous Korean businesses that have set up shop in Montgomery. The only difficulty is a slight shortage in high-skilled workers. Maybe this was inevitable in the current economic environment, but I think this is going to continue to be a difficult problem to solve.

    I know Governor Ivey and many workforce development organizations are collaborating on Work-based Learning Initiatives to address this issue. When these programs begin to bear fruit, Montgomery and Alabama will be considered a premier location for business expansion.

    What is your take on the partnership between Montgomery (and the River Region) and HMMA? We have always had a strong partnership. I am always appreciative of the efforts government officials and other business leaders have made to help HMMA succeed. They have the mindset of “Go Together. Grow Together.”

    HMMA President and CEO Dong Ryeol Choi is committed to continuing the strong partnership between the company and the River Region, sharing area leaders’ philosophy “Go Together.  Grow Together.”

    “HMMA is a giant, ship-like organization with many small heroes, from team leaders to executives to suppliers, who are working together to steer our company toward long-term success.”
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