New Leadership Team Prepares Ricardo, Inc., for Growth

Jan 04, 2010, 08:00 ET from Ricardo, Inc.

VAN BUREN TWP., Mich., Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Ricardo, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Ricardo plc, the leading independent provider of technology, product innovation and engineering solutions to the world's automotive, defense, transport and new energy industries, has announced three key appointments that will strengthen the company's senior management team.

In the first of these appointments, Kent Niederhofer was named president of Ricardo, Inc., effective on Jan. 1. This appointment follows a comprehensive realignment of Ricardo, Inc., to focus its activities on the delivery of clean technology and market-leading fuel economy solutions to automotive customers, as well as serving new clients in adjacent market sectors such as government and regulatory agencies, defense vehicles and renewable energy.

Niederhofer joined Ricardo, Inc., in 2007 as vice president of finance, and has been instrumental in the diversification and realignment strategies that have helped steer the company successfully through the downturn. Before joining Ricardo, Niederhofer was CFO and vice president of finance and information technology at AxleTech International, Inc., a $400 million, privately held manufacturer of axles, brakes and drivetrain components for the off-highway and heavy equipment industries. Prior to this, he was vice president and CFO of GenTek, Inc., and director of manufacturing, strategy and finance for Visteon Corp., a global Tier 1 automotive supplier. Earlier, he held senior positions with Ford Motor Company and Caterpillar, Inc.

Niederhofer received his M.B.A. in finance and operations from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, and holds bachelor's degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from the State University of New York at Geneseo and the University of Buffalo, respectively. In his new role, Niederhofer will report to Dave Shemmans, CEO of parent company Ricardo plc.

Succeeding Niederhofer as vice president of finance is Jim Ayer, who most recently was CFO of Noble International, a global supplier of laser-welded blanks and roll-formed steel products. Previously, Ayer held senior management positions at ArvinMeritor and Delphi Automotive Systems and in the beverage and insurance industries.

He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Rochester, N.Y., and was awarded a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the State University of New York.

The senior leadership team of Ricardo, Inc., is further strengthened by the appointment of Andrew Smart, who is responsible for business development. Smart joins Ricardo from AVL Powertrain Engineering, Inc., where he was head of business development. In a career spanning more than 25 years, he has held powertrain engineering and management posts with Tickford Engelhard (now part of BASF), Perkins Technology and DAF. The British-born Smart holds a bachelor of engineering degree and is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Commenting on these key appointments, Ricardo plc CEO Dave Shemmans said: "The past year has been extremely challenging for the North American automotive market, and it is testimony to the hard work, determination and managerial innovation of the Ricardo, Inc., senior team that the company has been able to realign and adapt itself quickly to new opportunities in adjacent sectors, such as defense vehicles and renewable power, while continuing to serve core markets and customers. Kent Niederhofer has been instrumental in this endeavour, and I am therefore extremely pleased that he has accepted the position of president of Ricardo, Inc. It is also very encouraging to see that Kent has already made two very impressive appointments to his team."

Added Niederhofer: "The continued success of Ricardo in the North American market requires that we attract the best talent to our senior management team. I am particularly pleased to welcome Andrew Smart and Jim Ayer to Ricardo and believe that they will make valuable contributions to our sales and marketing operation and our finance function as we take our U.S. business to the next level."

About Ricardo

Ricardo, the Eco-Innovation Technology Company, is a leading independent provider of technology, product innovation, engineering solutions and strategic consulting to the world's automotive, military, transport and new energy industries. The company's skill base represents the state of the art in low-emissions and fuel-efficient powertrain technology, and can be best summarized "Ricardo Is Fuel Economy." Ricardo offers TVFE(TM), its Total Vehicle Fuel Economy engineering service, to transportation manufacturers and related government agencies worldwide to provide objective evaluation of all available technologies to identify the most cost-effective strategies to accomplish fuel economy and CO2 goals.

With technical centers and offices throughout Europe, the U.S. and Asia, Ricardo provides engineering expertise ranging from vehicle systems integration, controls and electronics, and hardware and software development to the latest driveline and transmission systems and gasoline, diesel, hybrid and fuel cell powertrain technologies. Ricardo's customers include the world's major automakers and suppliers as well as manufacturers in the military, commercial, off-highway and clean energy sectors. The company also serves in advisory roles to governmental and independent agencies. Ricardo's U.S. operation, Ricardo, Inc., is headquartered in Van Buren Township, Michigan. Ricardo plc posted sales of $296.6 million in financial year 2009 and is a constituent of the FTSE techMARK 100 Index a group of innovative technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. For more information, visit

SOURCE Ricardo, Inc.