A Look into

LMV Automotive

Living the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is posted in large letters in the training and innovation center at Magna’s LMV Automotive division in Liberty, Missouri, a reminder to “treat others as you wish to be treated.”

“We expect people to have mutual respect,” said Matt Fortier, the division’s general manager. “We’re operating in a workplace where people may disagree about things, but we always treat each other politely and with kindness.”

Setting this high standard for workplace behavior pushes employees to work toward solutions, while inspiring them to perform at a higher level, according to LMV’s management team. It can also reap rewards in terms of customer satisfaction.

“Our very first general manager started this tradition,” Fortier said. “He always said, ‘Do what’s right, do your best, and follow the Golden Rule.’ It’s just one of the ways we reach out and connect with people.”

Another way is sending birthday cards to all 500 employees, personally signed by the 12-member management team. The cards include a $10 voucher to the local Dairy Queen, where people can treat themselves and their families to ice cream.

Work anniversaries are also occasions for special treatment. Fortier and other managers go out to the shop floor, find the person, make an announcement and take pictures.

“Going out to the floor is more of a personal touch than having the person stand up in an employee meeting,” Fortier said. “We recognize your achievement in your environment. Our employees seem to really like this approach.”

Fortier attributes his sensitivity to the needs of employees to growing up in an automotive family in Livonia, Michigan. His father Ray still works at the General Motors Powertrain Plant in Romulus, Michigan and spent 25 years building V8 engines there. His mother Kathy was an executive administrator for 3M in the automotive division.

“In our employee meetings, we stand up and give a little bio of ourselves,” Fortier said. “It shows we’re not robots. We have families and lives. We work hard, just like you. It’s a way to make management more personable. In the meeting, I poke a little bit of fun at myself. I share a picture of me in college and say, ‘I didn’t have any gray in my beard back then.’ ”

Matt Fortier, LMV Automotive general manager

A Traveling SPIRIT

Molly Boykin checked the MyLife app last April and discovered an interesting opportunity: Magna Seating Columbus in Ohio was experiencing some staffing challenges. Who would like to help out and work in a new division for a short time?

“I jumped at the chance,” said Boykin, at the time a welder and a team lead at Magna’s LMV Automotive division in Liberty, Missouri. “I packed up every Magna shirt I own, my jeans and my steel-toed boots. I traveled with 40 other people from LMV. We flew from Kansas City to Columbus, shared rental cars and stayed in a nice hotel. I ended up working in Ohio for two months. It was a great experience.”

She attributes her “traveling spirit” to her previous career as a hospice nurse assistant.

“In hospice, you work with families, bringing personalities together in crisis situations,” Boykin explained. “You have a lot coming at you, and you want to be the glue to keep everything together and be able to function as one team.”

Her team spirit comes from her volunteer work as a track coach for the Kansas City Rebels, a community-based organization that helps kids qualify for the Junior Olympics. Boykin, a former varsity track athlete in high school, specializes in the long jump and turbo javelin.

(LEFT TO RIGHT), Walker Bolander, Cliff Jones, Jordan Franklin

(LEFT TO RIGHT), Noah Gutierrez, Raul Marron, Ricardo Franco, Darrell Booker, Brandan Anderson, Jordan Franklin, Coti Farley, Daniel Stewart, Blake Boyd, Kevin Curtis

“My philosophy in coaching and at work is the same,” she said. “Always stay focused on moving forward. We have one team, one goal. I like to empower my team to make decisions and be confident. That’s how you grow.”

Growth experiences were at the heart of her Magna journey to Ohio. The LMV team had experience in building underbodies for the Ford Transit. Transitioning to seats proved to be a different skill set.

“When I got to Ohio, I assumed the area lead position and helped in logistics,” Boykin said. “I grew in the position and had to make more decisions on my own and trust in myself.”

When she returned to LMV Automotive, she was promoted to area lead. In July, Boykin noticed another interesting opportunity on the MyLife app: the EPIC (Educational Pathways for Innovative Careers) pilot program had opportunities for employees to expand their education. Boykin applied and is now working on an online degree in global logistics management from Arizona State University.

“After I finish that degree, I’m going for my master’s in engineering,” she said.

Looking back, Boykin said she learned a key lesson during her time in Ohio.

“It showed the cohesiveness of our company,” she said. “We can go to other plants and learn from each other. It shows we can be successful as one. It keeps us competitive, and it feels so good when it all meshes together.”

Road Warriors

Like other Magna divisions, LMV Automotive often lends support to its sister facilities by redeploying production workers during downtime.

During a slack period last spring, LMV employees traveled to several locations, including Magna Seating Columbus, Kamtek in Alabama and Bowling Green Metalforming in Kentucky.  At the peak of the logistical effort during the week of May 17, 88 LMV employees hit the road.

Matt Fortier, LMV Automotive general manager, likens the response to utility workers rushing to help restore power to neighboring locations during a blackout.

“The point is that we went above and beyond to make sure our people stayed employed,” he said. “It’s also the chance for employees to get a new experience at a different Magna division and to learn a new culture. Our volunteers have an excellent work ethic. They’re our rock stars.”

Barbecue: It’s Not Just About Eating

Barbecue is serious business in Missouri, home to LMV Automotive Systems. So it’s no surprise that one of the division’s social events featured a grilling competition, with 10 Magna teams facing off at a local park.

Shop floor employees and members of the management team judged the event, which boiled down to a friendly rivalry between Brandon Smart, LMV Automotive’s production manager, and Trey Lawrence, the EHS coordinator and the son of a butcher. To add to the drama, the two grew up together in nearby Excelsior Springs and are serious BBQ enthusiasts who still compete in local events.

Lawrence’s BBQ skills are well known within the plant. His family get-togethers include cooking oversized portions of ribs, brisket, pork and chicken, and he often shares leftovers with his co-workers. A serious pitmaster, Lawrence’s home smokers include a 55-gallon drum and a custom black box fabricated by his brother-in-law, a welder.

“Brandon got first place in ribs,” said Lawrence, who still seems to be smarting from the results two years later. “I got second place. I don’t know how he got first, because his ribs looked like charcoal. We went back and forth about that for a couple of months.”

Intense rivalry aside, Lawrence has a philosophy about barbecue that goes beyond his succulent creations.

LMV BBQ contest July 2019.  Trey Lawerence's grill team. (left to right), Tracy Lawerence (dad), Marcus Cody, Caleb Stratton, Trey Lawerence.

“Barbecue brings family and friends together, and it’s a blast, especially the competitions.”


Serve with coleslaw

-Start with a slab of ribs seasoned with pepper, salt, paprika, chili powder and crushed or powdered onion or garlic.

-Place in smoker at 120 degrees Celsius for approximately 2-1/2 hours.

-Spray meat with a mixture of apple juice, apple cider vinegar, craft beer and a couple of shots of bourbon.

-Repeat process every 30 minutes.

-Next, wrap ribs in foil with half a stick of butter, one cup of apple juice and a couple of handfuls of brown sugar.

-Cook for 90 minutes or so.

-To test if meat is tender and done, tug on an end bone and a center bone. If the bone slides out easily, the meat is ready.

Cooking time may vary.



“Low and slow is the name of the game,” advises Trey Lawrence when asked for his secret BBQ recipe.

He is something of a purist, too, refusing to add such trendy items as coffee or chocolate to his BBQ sauce. Apple juice and apple cider vinegar are his go-to ingredients.

Lawrence said his wife’s grandmother, who is from the Carolinas, makes the best vinegar-based coleslaw. But that recipe is a mystery.

(From left to right) Patrick Mahomes , Andrew Wylie, and Austin Reiter. All Kansas City Chiefs players.