President & Chief Executive Officer
Kia Georgia, Inc.
Location: LaGrange, Georgia
Industry: Automotive Manufacturing
Stuart Countess is the president and CEO of Kia Georgia’s manufacturing facility in West Point, Georgia.
He is responsible for all operational facets of the four-model (Telluride, Sorento, Sportage and K5) assembly plant that employs over 3,000 people and has the capacity to produce 340,000 vehicles annually. While he is responsible for a vast operation, he also understands that today’s leaders have more resources and tools at their disposal to lead effectively.
“Today’s leaders have a much deeper resource pool than the leaders of decades past, primarily due to the endless improvements in technology and information systems,” he said. “With access to so much available information, today’s leaders have the ability to perform analysis and problem-solving activities quicker than ever before, creating the means to identify inefficiencies in their processes, as well as simulation to gauge the effectiveness of various potential countermeasures.”
In 2008, Countess was hired as the senior manager for Kia Georgia’s general assembly shop, where he was a key figure in developing and implementing The Kia Way and the Georgia Production System as core practices of the facility’s operational system. Throughout his 14 years at the company, Countess has progressed through the organization, holding positions as the company’s director of quality, vice president of quality, chief administrative officer and chief operating officer before assuming his current role.
In his various roles at Kia Georgia, Countess has been a key voice in 10 different vehicle launches that have resulted in the production of more than 3.8 million vehicles since 2009. This growth has taken Kia Georgia’s production lineup from one vehicle and one production shift in 2009 to four vehicles and three production shifts in 2022.
He was named one of Georgia’s top leaders in the 2022 Georgia Trends’ Georgia 500 and is the 2022 Southern Automotive Conference Hall of Fame Award recipient. Under his leadership, Kia Georgia products have achieved 15 individual JD Power Initial Quality, Vehicle Dependability and Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout honors.
Countess is also part of multiple civic and educational organizations that promote individual development while also providing leadership through service on multiple boards and committees. He sits on leadership boards for the Georgia Chamber, LaGrange College, LaGrange Academy, Georgia State Workforce Development Board, The Carter Center and the Georgia Association of Manufacturers. He also chairs key committees for Georgia’s Electric Mobility and Innovation Alliance and in Career, Technical and Agricultural Education through the Georgia Department of Education.
Stuart Countess is an avid golfer and loyal supporter of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He and his wife, Dana, reside in LaGrange. They have four children and four grandchildren.