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Honoring James E. Harbour, Automotive Industry Pioneer

Plastics Business


Jim Harbour, 86, an automotive industry pioneer and analyst, died Sept. 6.

AMBA Sets Up Scholarship Fund in Honor of James Harbour

  • To honor the lifetime of accomplishments of industry pioneer James (Jim) Harbour, the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) has set up a Scholarship Fund on his behalf to promote American manufacturing, while providing young adults with educational assistance. For those wishing to provide a donation to the AMBA Scholarship Fund, please make checks payable to the AMBA Scholarship Fund with verbiage in the check memo field written as: "AMBA – Jim Harbour Fund." To read more about the influence Harbour had on the automobile industry and manufacturing, read this article published by Crain’s Detroit Business. For more information on the scholarship fund, call the AMBA at 847.222.9402.

Automotive industry pioneer and analyst James (Jim) E. Harbour, 86, passed away Sept. 6 surrounded by his family.

In 1980, after working directly for Ford Motor and Chrysler Corporation for nearly 30 years, he formed Harbour and Associates, Inc., a consulting firm that assisted manufacturing companies in improving their overall competitiveness. He led his team to develop the first Harbour Report, a study of automaker manufacturing performance, which later became known as the bible of manufacturing labor efficiency for the automotive industry. He, and The Harbour Report, are credited with driving massive improvements in automotive manufacturing efficiency and performance across the globe that still are impactful today.

He retired as head of Harbour and Associates in 1999, but continued to analyze and consult in the automotive industry. In 2006, in conjunction with his daughter, Laurie Harbour, president and CEO of Harbour Results, Inc., he released a landmark study, Automotive Competitive Challenge: Going Beyond Lean, which documented the structural challenges and key issues impacting the profitability gap between the Detroit and Asian OEMs at that time. Again, he forced change within the industry.

In 2009, he authored Factory Man, which detailed how he discovered Toyota’s quality and productivity methods and helped the US auto industry get competitive. Most recently, he was an active board member for Harbour Results, Inc.

In addition to having a profound impact on the automotive and manufacturing industries, Jim Harbour was a devoted family man. Married to his wife, Dolores, for 60 years before she passed away in 2012, together they raised eight children, all of whom followed in their father’s footsteps as highly educated, hard-working professionals in all areas. He also is survived by 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren with whom he often shared his knowledge and wisdom.