Financials (10-K): Part I – Item 1. Business – Description of Our Business


Description of Our Business

We design, manufacture and sell automotive emission control and ride control systems and products, with 2009 revenues of $4.6 billion. We serve both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and replacement markets worldwide through leading brands, including Monroe®, Rancho®, Clevite® Elastomers, and Fric-Rot™ ride control products and Walker®, Fonos™, and Gillet™ emission control products.

As a parts supplier, we produce individual component parts for vehicles as well as groups of components that are combined as modules or systems within vehicles. These parts, modules and systems are sold globally to most leading OEMs and throughout all aftermarket distribution channels.

Overview of Automotive Parts Industry and Adjacent Markets
The automotive parts industry is generally separated into two categories: (1) “original equipment” or “OE” in which parts are sold in large quantities directly for use by OEMs; and (2) “aftermarket” in which replacement parts are sold in varying quantities to a wide range of wholesalers, retailers and installers. In the OE market, parts suppliers are generally divided into tiers — “Tier 1” suppliers that provide their products directly to OEMs, and “Tier 2” or “Tier 3” suppliers that sell their products principally to other suppliers for combination into the other suppliers’ own product offerings.

Demand for automotive parts in the OE market is generally a function of the number of new vehicles produced, which in turn is a function of prevailing economic conditions and consumer preferences. In 2009, the number of light vehicles produced was 8.6 million in North America, 24.6 million in Europe, South America and India and 26.5 million in Asia Pacific. The term “light vehicles” is comprised of two groups: (1) passenger cars and (2) light trucks. When we refer to “light trucks,” we are including sport-utility vehicles (SUV), crossover vehicles (CUV), pick-up trucks, vans and multi-purpose passenger vehicles. Worldwide new light vehicle production is forecasted to increase to 66.4 million units in 2010 from approximately 59.7 million units in 2009. Although OE demand is tied to planned vehicle production, parts suppliers also have the opportunity to grow through increasing their product content per vehicle, by further expanding business with existing customers and by serving new customers in existing or new markets. Companies with global presence and advanced technology, engineering, manufacturing and support capabilities, such as our company, are better positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

These same competitive advantages have enabled suppliers such as us to serve customers beyond the light vehicle market. Certain automotive parts suppliers now find themselves being asked to develop and produce components and integrated systems for the commercial market of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and non-road equipment as well as the recreational segment for two-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles. Tenneco foresees this market diversification as a source of future growth.

Demand for aftermarket products is driven by general economic conditions, the number of vehicles in operation, the age and distance driven of the vehicle fleet, and the average useful life and quality of vehicle parts. Although more vehicles are on the road than ever before, the aftermarket has experienced longer replacement cycles due to the improved quality of OE parts and increases in the average useful life of automotive parts as a result of technological innovation. In addition, the difficult global economic climate has negatively impacted aftermarket sales. Suppliers are increasingly being required to deliver innovative aftermarket products that upgrade the performance or safety of a vehicle’s original components to drive aftermarket demand.

Industry Trends
Currently, we believe several significant existing and emerging trends are dramatically impacting the automotive industry and the other markets we serve. As the dynamics of the markets we serve change, so do the roles, responsibilities and relationships of the participants. Key trends that we believe are affecting parts suppliers include:

General Economic Factors and Production Levels
The recent global financial crisis materially and negatively impacted the automotive industry and our customers’ businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere. Automakers around the world experienced financial difficulties from a weakened economy, tightening credit markets, low consumer confidence, and reduced demand for their products. General Motors and Chrysler reorganized under bankruptcy protection in 2009, and other OE manufacturers took actions to improve profitability and remain solvent. The automotive supply base in turn also faced severe cash flow problems as a result of the significantly lower production levels of light vehicles, increased costs of certain raw material, commodity and energy costs, and restricted access to additional liquidity through the capital markets. Consumers facing a weak job market and inadequate financing options were reluctant to purchase durable goods such as automobiles.

During 2008 and 2009, the North American market in particular witnessed a shift away from higher-margin light trucks to more fuel-efficient passenger cars, negatively impacting the sales and profitability of suppliers such as us. These trends are still impacting OE manufacturers and their suppliers.

Increasing Environmental Standards
OE manufacturers and their parts suppliers are designing and developing products to respond to increasingly stringent environmental requirements, growth in the diesel markets and increased demands for better fuel economy. Government regulations adopted over the past decade require substantial reductions in vehicle tailpipe emissions, longer warranties on parts of a vehicle’s pollution control equipment and additional equipment to control fuel vapor emissions. Manufacturers are responding with new technologies for gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles that minimize pollution and improve fuel economy.

As a leading supplier of emission control systems with strong technical capabilities, we believe we are well positioned to benefit from the more rigorous environmental standards being adopted around the world. To meet stricter air quality regulations, we have developed and sold diesel particulate filters for the Mercedes Benz Sprinter and BMW 1 and 3 series passenger cars in Europe and for the GM Duramax engine applications, the Ford Super Duty, the Dodge Ram and International Truck and Engine Corporation’s medium-duty trucks in North America. These particulate filters, coupled with De-NOx converters, reduce emissions of particulate matter by up to 90 percent and of nitrogen oxide by up to 85 percent. In addition, we have development and production contracts for our selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems with light and medium-duty truck manufacturers in North America, Europe and Asia. In China, we have development contracts for complete turnkey SCR systems, including the ELIM-NOx™ urea dosing technology which we acquired in 2007. Customers have also purchased prototypes of our hydrocarbon injector, a product acquired alongside the ELIM-NOx™ technology, which is used to inject hydrocarbon directly into the exhaust system to regenerate diesel particulate filters and Lean NOx Traps. Lastly, for various non-road customers, we are developing emission aftertreatment systems designed to meet Tier 4 environmental regulations.

Increasing Technologically Sophisticated Content
As consumers continue to demand vehicles with improved performance, safety and functionality at competitive prices, the components and systems in these vehicles become technologically more advanced and sophisticated. Mechanical functions are replaced with electronics; and mechanical and electronic devices are integrated into single systems. More stringent emission and other regulatory standards increase the complexity of the systems as well.

To remain competitive as a parts and systems supplier, we invest in engineering, research and development, spending $97 million in 2009, $127 million in 2008 and $114 million in 2007, net of customer reimbursements. In addition, we build prototypes and incur other costs on behalf of our customers to further our technological capabilities. Such expenses reimbursed by our customers totaled $104 million in 2009, $120 million in 2008, and $72 million in 2007. We also fund and sponsor university research to advance our emission control and ride control development.

By investing in technology, we can expand our product offerings and penetrate new markets. We developed diesel particulate filters (DPFs) which were first sold in Europe and then offered in North America. We co-developed with Öhlins Racing AB a computerized electronic suspension system (CES) now offered by Volvo, Audi, Ford, VW and Mercedes Benz on their vehicles.

Enhanced Vehicle Safety
Vehicle safety and handling continue to gain increased industry attention and play a critical role in consumer purchasing decisions. The U.S. made electronic stability control (ESC) systems mandatory by 2012 with the adoption of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126 (FMVSS-126). OEMs, to serve the needs of their customers and meet government mandates, are seeking parts suppliers that invest in new technologies, capabilities and products that advance vehicle safety, such as roll-over protection systems, smart airbags, braking electronics, computerized electronic suspension and safer, more durable materials. Those suppliers able to offer such innovative products and technologies have a distinct competitive advantage.

Tenneco co-developed CES and offers Kinetic® ride control technology to improve vehicle stability and handling. We promoted the “Safety Triangle” of Steering-Stopping-Stability to educate consumers about the detrimental effect of worn shock absorbers on vehicle steering and stopping distances. We introduced premium, Monroe® branded brakes to the aftermarket.

Outsourcing and Demand for Systems and Modules
OEMs have steadily outsourced more of the design and manufacturing of vehicle parts and systems to simplify the assembly process, lower costs and reduce development times. Furthermore, they have demanded fully integrated, functional systems made possible with the development of advanced electronics in addition to innovative, individual vehicle components and parts that may not readily interface together. As a result, successful parts suppliers offer a variety of component products individually as well as integrated modules and systems:

  • “Modules” are groups of component parts arranged in close physical proximity to each other within a vehicle. Modules are often assembled by the supplier and shipped to the OEM for installation in a vehicle as a unit. Integrated shock and spring units, seats, instrument panels, axles and door panels are examples.
  • “Systems” are groups of component parts located throughout a vehicle which operate together to provide a specific vehicle functionality. Emission control systems, anti-lock braking systems, safety restraint systems, roll control systems and powertrain systems are examples.

This shift towards fully integrated systems created the role of the Tier 1 systems integrator, a supplier responsible for executing a broad array of activities, including design, development, engineering, and testing of component parts, systems and modules. With more than a decade of experience as an established Tier 1 supplier, we have produced modules and systems for various vehicle platforms produced worldwide, supplying ride control modules for the GM Chevy Silverado, GM Sierra and the VW Transporter and emission control systems for the Ford Super Duty, Toyota Tundra, Chrysler Dodge Ram, Ford Focus, and the GM Acadia and Enclave. In addition, we continue to design other modules and systems for platforms yet to be introduced to the global marketplace.

Global Reach of OE Customers
Changing market dynamics are driving OE manufacturers and their parts suppliers to expand their global reach:

  • Growing Importance of Emerging Markets:   Because the North American and Western European automotive markets are relatively mature, OEMs are increasingly focusing on developing markets for growth opportunities, particularly Brazil, Russia, India and China, collectively known as the BRIC economies, as well as Thailand. As OEMs have penetrated new regions, growth opportunities for suppliers have emerged.
  • Governmental Tariffs and Local Parts Requirements:   Many governments around the world require vehicles sold within their country to contain specified percentages of locally produced parts. Additionally, some governments place high tariffs on imported parts.
  • Location of Production Closer to End Markets:   As OE manufacturers and parts suppliers have shifted production globally to be closer to their end markets, suppliers have expanded their reach, capturing sales in developing markets and taking advantage of relatively lower labor costs.

Because of these trends, OE manufacturers are increasingly seeking suppliers capable of supporting vehicle platforms being introduced globally. They want suppliers like Tenneco with design, production, engineering and logistics capabilities that can be accessed not just in North America and Europe but also in the developing markets.

Global Rationalization of OE Vehicle Platforms
OE manufacturers continue to standardize on “global platforms,” designing basic mechanical structures that are each suited for a number of similar vehicle models and able to accommodate different features for more than one region. Light vehicle platforms of over one million units are expected to grow from 36 percent to 52 percent of global OE production from 2009 to 2014.

With such global platforms, OE manufacturers realize significant economies of scale by limiting variations in items such as steering columns, brake systems, transmissions, axles, exhaust systems, support structures and power window and door lock mechanisms. The shift towards standardization can also benefit automotive parts suppliers. They can experience greater economies of scale, lower material costs, and reduced investment expenses for molds, dies and prototype development.

Extended Product Life of Automotive Parts
The average useful life of automotive parts, both OE and replacement, has been steadily increasing in recent years due to technological innovations. As a result, although there are more vehicles on the road than ever before, the global aftermarket has not kept pace with that growth. Accordingly, aftermarket suppliers have focused on reducing costs and providing product differentiation through advanced technology and recognized brand names. With our long history of technological innovation, brand awareness and operational effectiveness, we believe we are well positioned to leverage our products and technology.

Changing Aftermarket Distribution Channels
From 1999 to 2009, the number of retail outlets supplying aftermarket parts increased significantly while the number of jobber stores declined 14 percent in the U.S. Major aftermarket retailers, such as AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts, attempted to expand their commercial sales by selling directly to parts installers, which had historically purchased from their local warehouse distributors and jobbers, as they continued to market to individual retail consumers. Retailers now have the option to offer premium brands which are often preferred by their commercial customers in addition to standard products which are often selected by their individual store buyers. We believe we are well positioned to respond to this trend because we continue to produce high-quality, premium brands and products.

Contracting Supplier Base
Over the past few years, as OEMs expanded geographically, pricing pressures grew and outsourcing increased, parts suppliers fought to remain competitive through consolidation, investing or restructuring to broaden their global reach, offering integrated products and services and gaining economies of scale. The recent economic crisis only exacerbated this situation with 340 suppliers worldwide filing for insolvency in 2009. We believe that a supplier’s viability in this marketplace will depend, in part, on its ability to maintain and increase operating efficiencies and provide value-added services.

Analysis of Revenues
The table below provides, for each of the years 2007 through 2009, information relating to our net sales and operating revenues, by primary product lines and customer categories.

    Net Sales  
Year Ended December 31,   2009     2008     2007  
(Millions)    
Emission Control Systems & Products                        
Aftermarket   $ 315     $ 358     $ 370  
Original Equipment                        
OE Value-add     1,638       2,128       2,288  
OE Substrate(1)     966       1,492       1,673  
      2,604       3,620       3,961  
      2,919       3,978       4,331  
Ride Control Systems & Products                        
Aftermarket     721       761       734  
Original Equipment     1,009       1,177       1,119  
      1,730       1,938       1,853  
Total Revenues   $ 4,649     $ 5,916     $ 6,184  

(1) See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” included in Item 7 for a discussion of substrate sales.

Brands
In each of our operating segments, we manufacture and market products with leading brand names. Monroe® ride control products and Walker® exhaust products are two of the most recognized brands in the industry. We emphasize product value differentiation with brands such as Monroe Sensa-Trac® and Reflex® (shock absorbers and struts), Quiet-Flow® (mufflers), DynoMax® (performance exhaust products), Rancho® (ride control products for the high performance light truck market), Clevite® Elastomers (elastomeric vibration control components), Marzocchi™ (forks and suspensions for the two-wheeler market) and Lukey (performance exhaust and filters). In Europe, our Gillet™ brand is recognized as a leader in highly engineered exhaust systems for OE customers.

Customers
We have developed long-standing business relationships with our customers around the world. In each of our operating segments, we work together with our customers in all stages of production, including design, development, component sourcing, quality assurance, manufacturing and delivery. With a diverse mix of OE and aftermarket products and facilities in major markets worldwide, we believe we are well positioned to meet customer needs. We believe we have a strong, established reputation with customers for providing high-quality products at competitive prices, as well as for timely delivery and customer service.

Worldwide we serve more than 65 different OEMs, and our products or systems are included on six of the top 10 passenger models produced in Europe and eight of the top 10 light truck models produced in North America for 2009. During 2009, our OEM customers included:

North America   Europe   Asia
AM General
Caterpillar
Chrysler
Club Car
Daimler AG
Fiat
Ford Motor
General Motors
Harley-Davidson
Honda Motor
John Deere
Navistar International
Nissan Motor
Oshkosh Truck
Paccar
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
Volvo Global Truck
  BMW
Daimler AG
Fiat
Ford Motor
General Motors
Harley-Davidson
Mazda Motor
Nissan Motor
Paccar
Porsche
PSA Peugeot Citroen
Renault
Suzuki
Tata Motors
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
Volvo Global Truck
  BMW
Brilliance Automobile
Changan Automotive
Dongfeng Motor
First Auto Works
Ford Motor
General Motors
Great Wall Motor Co.
Isuzu Motors
Jiangling Motors
Mazda Motor
Nissan Motor
PSA Peugeot Citroen
SAIC Motor Corp.
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group

 
Australia   South America   India
Club Car
Fiat
Ford Motor
General Motors
Mazda Motor
Toyota Motor
  Daimler AG
Fiat
Ford Motor
General Motors
Navistar International
Nissan Motor
PSA Peugeot Citroen
Renault
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
  Club Car
General Motors
Mahindra & Mahindra
Suzuki
Tata Motors
TVS Motors

The following customers accounted for 10 percent or more of our net sales in any of the last three years.

Customer   2009     2008     2007
General Motors     16 %     20 %     20 %
Ford     14 %     11 %     13 %

During 2009, our aftermarket customers were comprised of full-line and specialty warehouse distributors, retailers, jobbers, installer chains and car dealers. These customers included National Auto Parts Association (NAPA), Advance Auto Parts, Uni-Select, Pep Boys and O’Reilly Automotive in North America and Temot, Auto Distribution International, Group Auto Union, Kwik-Fit and Mekonomen Grossist in Europe. We believe our revenue mix is balanced, with our top 10 aftermarket customers accounting for 45 percent of our net aftermarket sales and our aftermarket sales representing 22 percent of our total net sales in 2009.

Competition
We operate in highly competitive markets. Customer loyalty is a key element of competition in these markets and is developed through long-standing relationships, customer service, high quality value-added products and timely delivery. Product pricing and services provided are other important competitive factors.

In both the OE market and aftermarket, we compete with the vehicle manufacturers, some of which are also customers of ours, and numerous independent suppliers. In the OE market, we believe that we rank among the top two suppliers in the world for both emission control and ride control products and systems for light vehicles. In the aftermarket, we believe that we are the market share leader in the supply of both emission control and ride control products for light vehicles in the markets we serve throughout the world.

Seasonality
Our OE and aftermarket businesses are somewhat seasonal. OE production is historically higher in the first half of the year compared to the second half. It decreases in the third quarter due to OE plant shutdowns; and softens in the fourth quarter due to reduced consumer demand for new vehicles during the holiday season and the winter months in North America and Europe generally. Our aftermarket operations, also affected by seasonality, experience relatively higher demand during the Spring as vehicle owners prepare for the Summer driving season.

While seasonality does impact our business, actual results may vary from the above trends due to global and local economic dynamics as well as industry-specific platform launches and other production-related events. For instance, in 2008 and 2009, seasonal OE plant closures were longer and more pronounced than normal due to the global recession.

Traditionally, during recessions, OE sales decline due to reduced consumer demand for automobiles and other capital goods. Aftermarket sales do not see the same impact as consumers forego new vehicle purchases and keep their vehicles longer, choosing to spend instead on repair and maintenance services. By participating in both the OE and aftermarket segments, we generally see a smaller revenue decline than the overall change in OE production.

Emission Control Systems
Vehicle emission control products and systems play a critical role in safely conveying noxious exhaust gases away from the passenger compartment and reducing the level of pollutants and engine exhaust noise emitted to acceptable levels. Precise engineering of the exhaust system — extending from the manifold that connects an engine’s exhaust ports to an exhaust pipe, to the catalytic converter that eliminates pollutants from the exhaust, and to the muffler that modulates noise and emissions — leads to a pleasant, tuned engine sound, reduced pollutants and optimized engine performance.

We design, manufacture and distribute a variety of products and systems designed to reduce pollution and optimize engine performance, acoustic tuning and weight, including the following:

  • Catalytic converters and diesel oxidation catalysts — Devices consisting of a substrate coated with precious metals enclosed in a steel casing used to reduce harmful gaseous emissions, such as carbon monoxide;
  • Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) — Devices to eliminate particulate matter emitted from diesel engines;
  • Burner systems — Devices which actively combust fuel and air inside the exhaust system to create extra heat for DPF regeneration, or for improved efficiency of SCR systems;
  • Hydrocarbon vaporizers and injectors — Devices to add fuel to a diesel exhaust system in order to regenerate diesel particulate filters or Lean NOx traps;
  • Lean NOx traps — Devices which reduce Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel powertrains using capture and store technology;
  • Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) systems — Devices which reduce NOx emissions from diesel powertrains using injected reductants such as AdBLue™ or Diesel Exhaust Fuel (DEF);
  • Mufflers and resonators — Devices to provide noise elimination and acoustic tuning;
  • Exhaust manifolds — Components that collect gases from individual cylinders of a vehicle’s engine and direct them into a single exhaust pipe;
  • Pipes — Utilized to connect various parts of both the hot and cold ends of an exhaust system;
  • Hydroformed assemblies — Forms in various geometric shapes, such as Y-pipes or T-pipes, which provide optimization in both design and installation as compared to conventional pipes; and
  • Hangers and isolators — Used for system installation and elimination of noise and vibration.

For the catalytic converters we sell, we either buy completed catalytic converters systems themselves or procure substrates coated with precious metals which we incorporate into entire systems. We obtain from third parties or directly from OE manufacturers these components and systems, often at the OEM’s discretion. See Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for more information on our sales of these products.

We entered the emission control market in 1967 with the acquisition of Walker Manufacturing Company, which was founded in 1888, and became one of Europe’s leading OE emission control systems suppliers with the acquisition of Heinrich Gillet GmbH & Co. in 1994. Throughout this document, the term “Walker” refers to our subsidiaries and affiliates that produce emission control products and systems.

We supply our emission control offerings to 40 vehicle makers for use on over 200 vehicle models, including five of the top 10 passenger cars produced in Europe and six of the top 10 light truck models produced in North America for 2009. We also delivered emission control products to heavy-duty truck and specialty vehicle manufacturers including Harley-Davidson, BMW Motorcycle, Daimler Trucks, and International Truck and Engine Corporation (Navistar).

In the aftermarket, we manufacture, market and distribute replacement mufflers for virtually all North American, European, and Asian makes of light vehicles under brand names including Quiet-Flow®, TruFit® and Aluminox Pro™, in addition to offering a variety of other related products such as pipes and catalytic converters (Walker Perfection®). We also serve the specialty exhaust aftermarket with offerings that include Mega-Flow™ exhaust products for heavy-duty vehicle applications and DynoMax® high performance exhaust products. We continue to emphasize product-value differentiation with other aftermarket brands such as Thrush® and Fonos™.

The following table provides, for each of the years 2007 through 2009, information relating to our sales of emission control products and systems for certain geographic areas:

 

    Percentage of Net Sales  
Year Ended December 31,   2009     2008     2007  
United States                        
Aftermarket     17 %     12 %     10 %
OE market     83       88       90  
      100 %     100 %     100 %
Foreign Sales                        
Aftermarket     8 %     8 %     8 %
OE market     92       92       92  
      100 %     100 %     100 %
Total Sales by Geographic Area                        
United States     31 %     32 %     34 %
Foreign     69       68       66  
      100 %     100 %     100 %

Ride Control Systems
Superior ride control is governed by a vehicle’s suspension system, including its shock absorbers and struts. Shock absorbers and struts serve to maintain the vertical loads placed on the vehicle’s tires and thus, help keep the tires in contact with the road. A vehicle’s ability to steer, brake, accelerate and operate safely depends on the contact between the vehicle’s tires and the road. Worn shocks and struts can allow excess transfer of the vehicle’s weight — either from side to side which is called “roll;” from front to rear which is called “pitch;” or up and down, which is called “bounce.” Shock absorbers are designed to control the vertical loads placed on tires and thereby provide resistance to vehicle roll, pitch and bounce. They not only function as safety components but also provide a comfortable ride.

We design, manufacture and distribute a variety of ride control products and systems. Our ride control offerings include:

  • Shock absorbers — A broad range of mechanical shock absorbers and related components for light- and heavy-duty vehicles, including twin-tube and monotube shock absorbers;
  • Struts — A complete line of struts and strut assemblies for light vehicles;
  • Vibration control components (Clevite® Elastomers) — Generally, rubber-to-metal bushings and mountings to reduce vibration between metal parts of a vehicle. Offerings include a broad range of suspension arms, rods and links for light- and heavy-duty vehicles;
  • Kinetic® Suspension Technology — A suite of roll-control and nearly equal wheel-loading systems ranging from simple mechanical systems to complex hydraulic ones featuring proprietary and patented technology. The Kinetic® Suspension Technology was incorporated on the Citroën World Rally Car that was featured in the World Rally Championship 2003, 2004 and 2005. Additionally, the Kinetic® Suspension Technology was offered on the Lexus GX 470 sport utility vehicle which resulted in our winning the PACE Award;
  • Advanced suspension systems — Shock absorbers and suspension systems that electronically adjust a vehicle’s performance based on inputs such as steering and braking; and
  • Other — We also offer other ride control products such as load assist products, springs, steering stabilizers, adjustable suspension systems, suspension kits and modular assemblies.

We supply our ride control offerings to over 65 vehicle-makers for use on over 210 vehicle models, including three of the top 10 passenger cars produced in Europe and 7 of the top 10 light truck models produced in North America for 2009. We also supply OE ride control products and systems to a range of heavy-duty and specialty vehicle manufacturers including Volvo Truck, Scania, International Truck and Engine Corporation (Navistar), and PACCAR.

In the ride control aftermarket, we manufacture, market and distribute replacement shock absorbers for virtually all North American, European and Asian makes of light vehicles under several brand names including Gas Matic®, Sensa-Trac®, Monroe Reflex® and Monroe Adventure®, as well as Clevite® Elastomers for elastomeric vibration control components. We also sell ride control offerings for the heavy-duty, off-road and specialty aftermarket, such as our Gas-Magnum® shock absorbers for the North American heavy-duty category and Marzocchi front forks for two wheelers.

We entered the ride control product line in 1977 with the acquisition of Monroe Auto Equipment Company, which was founded in 1916, and introduced the world’s first modern tubular shock absorber in 1930. When the term “Monroe” is used in this document it refers to our subsidiaries and affiliates that produce ride control products and systems.

The following table provides, for each of the years 2007 through 2009, information relating to our sales of ride control equipment for certain geographic areas:

    Percentage of Net Sales  
Year Ended December 31,   2009     2008     2007  
United States                        
Aftermarket     60 %     53 %     58 %
OE market     40       47       42  
      100 %     100 %     100 %
Foreign Sales                        
Aftermarket     32 %     32 %     31 %
OE market     68       68       69  
      100 %     100 %     100 %
Total Sales by Geographic Area                        
United States     36 %     34 %     32 %
Foreign     64       66       68  
      100 %     100 %     100 %

Financial Information About Geographic Areas
Refer to Note 11 of the consolidated financial statements of Tenneco Inc. included in Item 8 of this report for financial information about geographic areas.

Sales, Marketing and Distribution
We have separate and distinct sales and marketing efforts for our OE and aftermarket businesses.

For OE sales, our sales and marketing team is an integrated group of professionals, including skilled engineers and program managers, who are organized by customer and product type (e.g., ride control and emission control). Our sales and marketing team provides the appropriate mix of operational and technical expertise needed to interface successfully with the OEMs. Our new business “capture process” involves working closely with the OEM platform engineering and purchasing teams. Bidding on OE automotive platforms typically encompasses many months of engineering and business development activity. Throughout the process, our sales team, program managers and product engineers assist the OE customer in defining the project’s technical and business requirements. A normal part of the process includes our engineering and sales personnel working on customers’ integrated product teams, and assisting with the development of component/system specifications and test procedures. Given that the OE business involves long-term production contracts awarded on a platform-by-platform basis, our strategy is to leverage our engineering expertise and strong customer relationships to obtain platform awards and increase operating margins.

For aftermarket sales and marketing, our sales force is generally organized by customer and region and covers multiple product lines. We sell aftermarket products through four primary channels of distribution: (1) the traditional three-step distribution system of full-line warehouse distributors, jobbers and installers; (2) the specialty two-step distribution system of specialty warehouse distributors that carry only specified automotive product groups and installers; (3) direct sales to retailers; and (4) direct sales to installer chains. Our aftermarket sales and marketing representatives cover all levels of the distribution channel, stimulating interest in our products and helping our products move through the distribution system. Also, to generate demand for our products from end-users, we run print and television advertisements and offer pricing promotions. We were one of the first parts manufacturers to offer business-to-business services to customers with TA-Direct, an on-line order entry and customer service tool. In addition, we maintain detailed web sites for each of Walker®, Monroe®, Rancho®, DynoMax®, Monroe brake brands and our heavy-duty products.

Manufacturing and Engineering
We focus on achieving superior product quality at the lowest operating costs possible and generally use state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to achieve that goal. Our manufacturing strategy centers on a lean production system designed to reduce overall costs, while maintaining quality standards and reducing manufacturing cycle time. In addition, we have implemented Six Sigma in our processes to minimize product defects and improve operational efficiencies. We deploy new technology to differentiate our products from our competitors’ and to achieve higher quality and productivity. We continue to adapt our capacity to customer demand, both expanding capabilities in growth areas as well as reallocating capacity away from demand segments in decline.

Emission Control
Our consolidated businesses operate 11 emission control manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and 43 emission control manufacturing facilities outside of the U.S. We operate 14 of these international manufacturing facilities through joint ventures in which we hold a controlling interest. We operate five emission control engineering and technical facilities worldwide and share two other such facilities with our ride control operations. In addition, three joint ventures in which we hold a noncontrolling interest operate a total of three manufacturing facilities outside the U.S.

Within each of our emission control manufacturing facilities, operations are organized by component (e.g., muffler, catalytic converter, pipe, resonator and manifold). Our manufacturing systems incorporate cell-based designs, allowing work-in-process to move through the operation with greater speed and flexibility. We continue to invest in plant and equipment to stay competitive in the industry. For instance, in our Smithville, Tennessee, OE manufacturing facility, we have developed a muffler assembly cell that utilizes laser welding. This allows for quicker change-over times in the process as well as less material used and less weight for the product. There is also a reduced cycle time compared to traditional joining and increased manufacturing precision for superior durability and performance. In 2007, we introduced the Measured and Matched Converter technique in North America. This allows us to maintain the optimum GBD (Gap Bulk Density) in our converter manufacturing operations with Tenneco proprietary processing. This process, coupled with cold spinning of the converter body, versus traditional cone to can welding, allows for more effective use of material through reduced welding, lower cost, and better performance of the product.

To strengthen our position as a Tier-1 OE systems supplier, we have developed some of our emission control manufacturing operations into “just-in-time” or “JIT” systems. In this system, a JIT facility located close to our OE customer’s manufacturing plant receives product components from both our manufacturing operations and independent suppliers, and then assembles and ships products to the OEMs on an as-needed basis. To manage the JIT functions and material flow, we have advanced computerized material requirements planning systems linked with our customers’ and supplier partners’ resource management systems. We have three emission control JIT assembly facilities in the United States and 23 throughout the rest of the world.

Our engineering capabilities include advanced predictive design tools, advanced prototyping processes and state-of-the-art testing equipment. These technological capabilities make us a “full system” integrator to the OEMs, supplying complete emission control systems from the manifold to the tailpipe, to provide full emission and noise control. We have expanded our engineering capabilities with the acquisition of Combustion Component Associates’s ELIM-NOx™ mobile emission technology that includes urea and hydrocarbon injection, and electronic controls and software for selective catalytic reduction. We have also developed advanced predictive engineering tools, including KBM&E (Knowledge Based Manufacturing & Engineering). The innovation of our KBM&E (which we call TEN-KBM&E) is a modular toolbox set of CAD embedded applications for manufacturing and engineering compliant design. The encapsulated TEN-KBM&E content is driven by an analytical method which continuously captures and updates the knowledge of our main manufacturing and engineering processes.

Ride Control
Our consolidated businesses operate seven ride control manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and 23 ride control manufacturing facilities outside the U.S. We operate two of these international facilities through joint ventures in which we hold a controlling interest. We operate seven engineering and technical facilities worldwide and share two other such facilities with our emission control operations.

Within each of our ride control manufacturing facilities, operations are organized by product (e.g., shocks, struts and vibration control products) and include computer numerically controlled and conventional machine centers; tube milling and drawn-over-mandrel manufacturing equipment; metal inert gas and resistance welding; powdered metal pressing and sintering; chrome plating; stamping; and assembly/test capabilities. Our manufacturing systems incorporate cell-based designs, allowing work-in-process to move through the operation with greater speed and flexibility.

To strengthen our position as a Tier 1 OE module supplier, we have developed some of our manufacturing operations into JIT systems. We have three JIT ride control facilities outside the U.S.

In designing our shock absorbers and struts, we use advanced engineering and test capabilities to provide product reliability, endurance and performance. Our engineering capabilities feature advanced computer-aided design equipment and testing facilities. Our dedication to innovative solutions has led to such technological advances as:

  • Adaptive damping systems — adapt to the vehicle’s motion to better control undesirable vehicle motions;
  • Electronically adjustable suspensions — change suspension performance based on a variety of inputs such as steering, braking, vehicle height, and velocity; and
  • Air leveling systems — manually or automatically adjust the height of the vehicle.

Conventional shock absorbers and struts generally compromise either ride comfort or vehicle control. Our innovative grooved-tube, gas-charged shock absorbers and struts provide both ride comfort and vehicle control, resulting in improved handling, reduced vibration and a wider range of vehicle control. This technology can be found in our premium quality Sensa-Trac® shock absorbers. We further enhanced this technology by adding the SafeTech™ fluon banded piston, which improves shock absorber performance and durability. We introduced the Monroe Reflex® shock absorber, which incorporates our Impact Sensor™ device. This technology permits the shock absorber to automatically switch in milliseconds between firm and soft compression damping when the vehicle encounters rough road conditions, thus maintaining better tire-to-road contact and improving handling and safety. We have also developed an innovative computerized electronic suspension system, which features dampers developed by Tenneco and electronic valves designed by öhlins Racing AB. The continuously controlled electronic suspension (“CES”) ride control system is featured on Audi, Volvo, Ford, VW and Mercedes Benz vehicles.

Quality Control
Quality control is an important part of our production process. Our quality engineers establish performance and reliability standards in the product’s design stage, and use prototypes to confirm that the component/system can be manufactured to specifications. Quality control is also integrated into the manufacturing process, with shop operators being responsible for quality control of their specific work product. In addition, our inspectors test work-in-progress at various stages to ensure components are being fabricated to meet customers’ requirements.

We believe our commitment to quality control and sound management practices and policies is demonstrated by our successful participation in the International Standards Organization/Technical Specifications certification process (“ISO/TS”). ISO/TS certifications are semi-annual or annual audits that certify that a company’s facilities meet stringent quality and business systems requirements. Without ISO or TS certification, we would not be able to supply our products for the aftermarket or the OE market, respectively, either locally or globally. All of our manufacturing facilities where we have determined that TS certification is required to serve our customers or would provide us with an advantage in securing additional business, have achieved ISO/TS 16949 certification.

Business Strategy
We strive to strengthen our global market position by designing, manufacturing, delivering and marketing technologically innovative emission control and ride control products and systems for OEMs and the aftermarket. We work toward achieving a balanced mix of products, markets and customers by capitalizing on emerging trends, specific regional preferences and changing customer requirements. We target both mature and developing markets for not just light vehicles, but also for commercial and specialty vehicles. We further enhance our operations by focusing on operational excellence in all functional areas.

The key components of our business strategy are described below:

Develop and Commercialize Advanced Technologies
We develop and commercialize technologies that allow us to expand into new, fast-growing markets and serve our existing customers. By anticipating customer needs and preferences, we design advanced technologies that meet global market needs. For example, to meet the increasingly stringent emissions regulations being introduced around the world, we offer an integrated Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that incorporates our ELIM-NOx™ technology.

We expect available content per vehicle to continue to rise over the next several years. Advanced aftertreatment exhaust systems will be required to comply with emissions regulations that affect light and commercial vehicles as well as locomotive and stationary engines. In addition, vehicle manufacturers, we believe, will offer greater comfort, handling and safety features by offering products such as electronic suspension and adjustable dampers. Our Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CES) shock absorbers are now sold to Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, VW, and Ford, among others, and our engineered elastomers to manufacturers with unique requirements.

We continue to focus on developing highly engineered systems and complex assemblies and modules designed to provide value-added solutions to customers and increase vehicle content generally. Having many of our engineering and manufacturing facilities integrated electronically, we believe, has helped our products continue to be selected for inclusion in top-selling vehicles. In addition, our just-in-time and in-line sequencing manufacturing processes and distribution capabilities have enabled us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs.

Penetrate Adjacent Markets
We seek to penetrate a variety of adjacent markets and achieve growth in higher-margin businesses by applying our existing design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. For example, we are aggressively leveraging our technology and engineering leadership in emission and ride control into adjacent markets such as the heavy-duty market for trucks, buses, agricultural equipment, construction machinery and other commercial vehicles. We have expanded our presence into the global market for off-road equipment by our newly formed relationship with Caterpillar as their global diesel emission control system integration supplier. We have added the ride control products and technologies of Gruppo Marzocchi to our existing exhaust systems for two-wheelers obtained from the Gabilan Manufacturing acquisition. In addition, we are evaluating and selectively pursuing retrofit opportunities which will allow us to penetrate new markets or expand our products in existing markets.

Expand in Developing Economies
We continue to adjust our global footprint to follow our customers into growth regions around the world and capture our fair share of new business. Recently, we opened a wholly-owned elastomer manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China; built and expanded several facilities in India; opened a second emissions control facility in St. Petersburg, Russia; and opened a new manufacturing plant in Korea. As OEMs have entered the fast-growing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Thailand, we have followed, building our capabilities to engineer and produce locally cost-competitive and cutting-edge products and capturing new business.

Maintain Our Aftermarket Leadership
We manufacture and market leading, brand-name products to a diversified and global aftermarket customer base. Two of the most recognized brand-name products in the automotive parts industry are our Monroe® ride control products and Walker® emission control products, which have been offered to consumers since the 1930s. We believe our brand equity in the aftermarket is a key asset especially as customers consolidate and channels of distribution converge.

We provide value differentiation by creating product extensions bearing our various brands. For example, we offer Monroe Reflex® and Monroe Sensa-Trac® shock absorbers, Walker Quiet-Flow® mufflers, Rancho® ride control products, DynoMax® exhaust products and Walker Ultra® catalytic converters, and in European markets, Walker and Aluminox Pro™ mufflers. Further, we introduced Monroe Springs™ and Monroe Magnum™ (bus and truck shock line) in Europe and in 2006 Monroe Dynamics® and Monroe Ceramics® brake pads in the United States. We continue to explore other opportunities for developing new product lines that bear our existing, well-known brands.

We strive to gain market share in the aftermarket business by adding new product offerings and increasing our market coverage of existing brands and products. To this end, we now offer an innovative, ride control product, the Quick-Strut®, that combines the spring and the upper mount into a single, complete module and simplifies and shortens the installation process, eliminating the need for the special tools and skills required previously. We plan on adapting our products further for use in Japanese and Korean vehicles. We benefited from the consolidation of, and regional expansion by, our customers and gained business lost by competitors that encountered financial difficulties.

Our success in the aftermarket business strengthens our competitive position with OEMs. We gain timely market and product knowledge that can be used to modify and enhance our original equipment offerings for greater customer acceptance.

Execute Focused Transactions
In the past, we have successfully identified and capitalized on strategic acquisitions and alliances to achieve growth. Through these acquisitions and alliances, we have (1) expanded our product portfolio with complementary technologies; (2) realized incremental business from existing customers; (3) gained access to new customers; and (4) achieved leadership positions in geographic markets outside North America.

We developed a strategic alliance with Futaba, a leading exhaust manufacturer in Japan. We also created an alliance with Hitachi (as successor to Tokico Ltd. following its acquisition of Tokico), a leading Japanese ride control manufacturer. These alliances help us grow our business with Japan-based OEMs by leveraging the geographical reach of each partner to serve global vehicle platforms of these OEMs.

We positioned ourselves as a leading exhaust supplier in the rapidly growing Chinese market through majority-owned joint venture operations in Dalian and Shanghai. In June of 2009, we formed a joint venture with Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Company Limited in Beijing that will produce emission-control exhaust systems for Hyundai. In addition, we continue to serve North American and European OEMs located in China; we supply luxury cars produced by BMW and Audi through our joint venture with Eberspächer International GmbH, and we supply various Ford platforms through our joint venture with Chengdu Lingchuan Mechanical Plant. We established a local engineering center in Shanghai to develop automotive exhaust products when our joint venture with Shanghai Tractor and Engine Company, a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., was expanded. Also, we increased our stake from 60 percent to 80 percent in Tenneco Tongtai Exhaust Company Limited located in Dalian in January 2010.

In September 2007, we bought the mobile emissions business of Combustion Components Associates, Inc., a manufacturer of air pollution control technologies. The acquisition augmented Tenneco’s system integration capabilities and offerings related to Selective Catalyst Reduction (SCR) technologies designed to meet future, more stringent diesel emissions regulations for passenger cars, trucks, and other vehicles.

In May 2008, we acquired from Delphi Automotive System LLC certain ride control assets at Delphi’s Kettering, Ohio facility to allow us to grow our OE ride control business globally. This acquisition allowed us to diversify our ride control business in North America and elsewhere.

In September 2008, we purchased the suspension business of Gruppo Marzocchi, an Italy-based worldwide supplier of suspension technology for the two-wheeler market. This acquisition helped to expand our business beyond light vehicles and brings us strong brands, leading products and advanced technology capabilities.

In February 2009, we signed a joint development agreement with GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Company, to develop a proprietary SCR and aftertreatment technology designed to reduce and control diesel engine emissions for various transportation and other applications. We are collaborating with GE Transportation on the development and production of GE’s Hydrocarbon-Selective Catalytic Reduction catalyst technology (HC-SCR), a diesel aftertreatment innovation aimed at reducing harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as effectively as urea-based SCR systems. We are working with others on alternative urea SCR technologies, such as solid SCR.

We signed exclusive licensing agreements for T.R.U.E. Clean™, an exhaust aftertreatment technology used for automatic and active regeneration of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs), with Woodward Governor Company and for vaporizer technologies with another company. These technologies, which complement our array of existing emissions control products, allow us to provide integrated exhaust aftertreatment systems to commercial vehicle manufacturers and others.

We intend to continue to pursue strategic alliances, joint ventures, acquisitions and other transactions that complement or enhance our existing products, technology, systems development efforts, customer base and/or global presence. We will align with companies that have proven products, proprietary technology, advanced research capabilities, broad geographic reach, and/or strong market positions to further strengthen our product leadership, technological edge, international reach and customer relationships.

Adapt Cost Structure to Economic Realities
We aggressively respond to difficult economic environments, aligning our operations to any resulting reductions in production levels and replacement demand and executing comprehensive restructuring and cost-reduction initiatives. In the fourth quarter of 2008, we launched a global restructuring program that is generating annual savings of about $58 million since fully implemented at the end of 2009. The restructuring program included actions to permanently reduce our fixed cost base and flex our costs, such as:

  • Permanently eliminating 1,100 jobs worldwide, which is in addition to 1,150 jobs previously eliminated in 2008;
  • Closing three North American manufacturing plants and an engineering facility in Australia;
  • Suspending matching contributions to employee 401(k) programs (which we reinstituted in 2010); and
  • Cutting spending on information technology, sales and marketing programs.

During 2009, we further flexed our operations to address the market conditions, implementing temporary layoffs of hourly workers at our plants worldwide that are impacted by customers’ plant shutdowns. We announced the closing of another manufacturing facility. In North America, where customer production cuts were the greatest, we also initiated salaried employee furloughs. In Europe, we eliminated all temporary positions and negotiated with various works councils to pursue similar cost reduction efforts including reduced work hours. We instituted cuts in salaries of at least 10 percent for salaried employees effective April 1, 2009, and implemented other actions to control employee costs. As economic and industry-wide conditions improved, we restored salaries to their prior levels effective October 1, 2009, and reinstated the employer matching contributions to the employee 401(k) plans for the year 2010.

In addition, we strategically reduced capital expenditures and engineering investments where possible without compromising our long-term growth prospects. We eliminated or postponed regional expansion projects, deferred spending tied to delayed customer launches, redeployed assets where feasible, and eliminated all discretionary capital spending. We focused on developing technologies and capabilities tied to business launching within the next two to three years, making exceptions in instances where the customer agreed to pay upfront for engineering and advance technology developments for programs launching in 2012 and beyond. In this way, we were able to continue all programs critical to our growth while limiting any near-term cash impact.

We are also focusing on generating cash flow through working capital improvements, particularly by reducing inventories and strengthening our management of payables and receivables.

Strengthen Operational Excellence
We will continue to focus on operational excellence by optimizing our manufacturing footprint, enhancing our Six Sigma processes and Lean productivity tools, developing further our engineering capabilities, managing the complexities of our global supply chain to realize purchasing economies of scale while satisfying diverse and global requirements, and supporting our businesses with robust information technology systems. We will make investments in our operations and infrastructure as required to achieve our strategic goals. We will be mindful of the changing market conditions that might necessitate adjustments to our resources and manufacturing capacity around the world. We will remain committed to protecting the environment as well as the health and safety of our employees.

Environmental Matters
We estimate that we and our subsidiaries will make expenditures for plant, property and equipment for environmental matters of approximately $3 million in 2010 and $2 million in 2011.

For additional information regarding environmental matters, see Item 3, “Legal Proceedings,” Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Environmental and Other Matters,” Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” and Note 12 to the consolidated financial statements of Tenneco Inc. included in Item 8.

Employees
As of December 31, 2009, we had approximately 21,000 employees of which approximately 49 percent were covered by collective bargaining agreements. European works councils cover 21 percent of our total employees, a majority of whom are also included under collective bargaining agreements. Several of our existing labor agreements in the United States and Mexico are scheduled for renegotiation in 2010. In addition, agreements are expiring in 2010 in Europe and South America covering plants in Spain, Germany, Portugal and Argentina. We regard our employee relations as satisfactory.

Other
The principal raw material that we use is steel. We obtain steel from a number of sources pursuant to various contractual and other arrangements. We believe that an adequate supply of steel can presently be obtained from a number of different domestic and foreign suppliers. From 2004 through 2008, we experienced higher steel prices which we have addressed by evaluating alternative materials and processes, reviewing material substitution opportunities, increasing component and assembly outsourcing to low cost countries and aggressively negotiating with our customers to allow us to recover these higher costs from them. While the recent global economic crisis has reduced the pressure on raw material prices, market prices remain volatile and we may face increased prices in the future.

We hold a number of domestic and foreign patents and trademarks relating to our products and businesses. We manufacture and distribute our products primarily under the Walker® and Monroe® brand names, which are well-recognized in the marketplace and are registered trademarks. The patents, trademarks and other intellectual property owned by or licensed to us are important in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of our products.