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Mary Petrovich
General manager, AxleTech International

Petrovich is proving that the car-parts industry can have a future, even after the downsizing of Detroit's automakers. Her vision: thinking beyond the Big Three.

Born in a Detroit suburb, Petrovich worked as an engineer for General Motors and Chrysler before taking over as chief of AxleTech, a division of General Dynamics that makes axles and suspensions for off-road equipment.

"As far as this region's future, I'm very optimistic for the right companies with the right leaders. But anyone who thinks things are going to go back to the way they were are kidding themselves. There's great opportunity here if you're willing to think differently. We've grown in employment by 50%. You have to be much more aggressive and you have to think globally.''

AxleTech has expanded its products from typical off-road machinery to defense applications. The company won a $200 million contract to build a proprietary drivetrain for a military vehicle used in Iraq and Afghanistan that can resist explosions from landmines and booby traps.

NEXT: Sam Simon

Last updated August 09 2010: 11:01 AM ET
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