New leadership team prepares Ricardo Inc for growth

New leadership team prepares Ricardo Inc for growth
03 January 2010

Ricardo, Inc., the US subsidiary of Ricardo plc, has announced two key appointments that will strengthen the company’s senior management team.

Kent Niederhofer - President, Ricardo IncIn the first of these appointments Kent Niederhofer has assumed responsibility as President of Ricardo Inc with effect from January 1. This new appointment follows a comprehensive realignment of Ricardo Inc’s activities to focus 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. 

Kent Niederhofer originally joined Ricardo Inc in 2007 as VP Finance, and has been instrumental in the execution of the adjacent sector diversification and realignment strategies that have helped steer the company successfully through the downturn. Before joining Ricardo Kent Niederhofer was CFO and Vice President of Finance and IT at AxleTech International Inc, a $400 million, private equity-held manufacturer of axles, brakes and drivetrain components for the off-highway and heavy equipment industry. Prior to this he was CFO and Vice President of Gentek, Inc., and before that, he was Director of Manufacturing, Strategy and Finance for global automotive Tier 1 supplier, Visteon Corporation. Earlier in his career he also held senior positions respectively with Ford Motor Company and Caterpillar Inc. He received his MBA in Finance & Operations from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and holds a BA in Physics and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Geneseo State University and the University of Buffalo, respectively. In his new role as President of Ricardo Inc, Kent Niederhofer will report directly to the CEO of parent company Ricardo plc, Dave Shemmans.

Kent Niederhofer will be succeeded as VP Finance by Jim Ayer, who joins Ricardo from global supplier of laser welded blanks and rolled formed steel products, Noble International, where he was Chief Financial Officer. Jim Ayer is a finance professional who has held senior management posts across a diverse range of industrial sectors. He joins Ricardo from Energy Conversion Devices Inc, where he was Senior Director for Financial Planning and Analysis, and his career spans consumer products, beverages and insurance, in addition to automotive positions with Arvin Meritor and Delphi Automotive Systems. Jim Ayer holds an MBA degree from the University of Rochester, NY, and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from the State University of New York.

Andrew SmartThe management of Ricardo Inc is further strengthened with the appointment of Andrew Smart to the senior leadership team, responsible for business development in new markets. Andrew Smart joins Ricardo from AVL Powertrain Engineering Inc where he held the post of head of business development. In a career spanning more than 25 years he has held previous powertrain engineering and management posts with Tickford Engelhard (now part of BASF), Perkins Technology and DAF. British born but now a naturalized US citizen, he studied at Birmingham in the UK and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

Commenting on these key appointments to the senior management team of Ricardo Inc, Dave Shemmans, CEO of Ricardo plc, 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.”

In further commenting on the appointments of Andrew Smart and Jim Ayer, Kent Niederhofer added: “The continued success of Ricardo Inc in the North American market requires that we can attract the best talent to our senior management team. I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome Andrew Smart and Jim Ayer to Ricardo and believe that they will be able to make significant and valuable contributions respectively to our sales & marketing operation and our finance function as we take our US business to the next level.”


Media contact:

Anthony Smith
Ricardo Media Office    
Tel:  +44 (0)1273 382710
Fax: +44 (0)1273 880218
E-mail: [email protected]