Larkin Leach

2020 STEP Ahead Emerging Leader

Commercialization Manager
Cooper Standard

It is an exhilarating time to be a part of the manufacturing industry as we leverage new technologies to meet rapidly evolving product requirements. The environment is fast-paced and innovative, and it is a privilege to work with diverse teams to turn an initial concept into a final product.

In her short time with Cooper Standard, Larkin has been responsible for a number of vital projects. As a chemist for a material platform called Fortrex®, Larkin was responsible for scale-up trials, validations testing, customer approval and life cycle determination. The Fortrex materials earned a 2018 Automotive News PACE Award, often referred to as the industry’s “Academy Award for Innovation,” and Larkin’s contributions to its development earned her Cooper Standard’s Passion for Performance Award.

Larkin also served as project leader for all aspects of setting up the new 2,400 sq. ft. lab at Cooper Standard’s newly opened Global Technical Center. Her responsibilities included designing the new layout and ordering, scheduling, and maintaining the equipment. The finished lab is so impressive that it is considered a high point during facility tours and Larkin has become the go-to person for lab-related questions.

Larkin is a strong contributor as one of the initial members of the recently established applied materials science group. She has worn many hats on the team, supporting both technical and commercial development activities. In her current role she is responsible for launching new materials, including developing a global supply chain and managing the production process validation.

As co-chair of the Manufacturing Industry Acceleration Committee of Cooper Standard’s WISE (Women, Inspire, Support, Enrich) affinity group, Larkin has supported a number of offsite STEM events aiming to drive interest in manufacturing and STEM careers. For instance, she played a lead role in WISE’s STEM Inspirations program, which visits local middle schools each month. She has gone beyond the school environment to spread the message about STEM, also participating in a STEM education event at HAVEN, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Additionally, she has helped execute Manufacturing Day events held at Cooper Standard’s Global Technology Center in order to educate and inspire students from a local at-risk shelter.

Most recently, Larkin has been using her materials science expertise to help Rebel Nell Jewelry, a Detroit-based social enterprise that empowers women by helping them create graffiti-inspired jewelry from chipped paint and by offering classes in financial success strategies.