Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO


Panelist Perspective


Richard E. Dauch is a 45-year veteran of the automotive industry. He began his career in 1964 when he joined General Motors Corporation following graduation from Purdue University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial management and science.

Over the course of his 12 years with GM, he progressed from a college-graduate-in-training to the youngest plant manager in Chevrolet’s history. In 1976, he joined Volkswagen of America (VWoA), where he served as group vice president of Manufacturing Operations and planned and created the manufacturing facilities for the first volume-automotive transplant in the United States.  Dauch also served as a member of VWoA’s Board of Directors.

Lee Iacocca recruited him to Chrysler Corporation in 1980 to resurrect the company’s ailing manufacturing operations. As executive vice president of Worldwide Manufacturing, Dauch was known as the driving force behind Chrysler’s manufacturing and quality renaissance with his visionary, no-nonsense, people-oriented, get-it-done management style. He planned and directed the implementation of Chrysler’s world-recognized, just-in-time materials management system and three-shift assembly system capability. He also oversaw the planning and construction of the Chrysler Technical Center and Chrysler’s newest assembly plants: Jefferson North, in Detroit, Sterling Heights Assembly and the Graz operations in Austria. He was also responsible for the 1983 launch of the new segment vehicle, the Chrysler minivan in Windsor Ontario.

In 1994, he co-founded American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) by teaming with two investors to purchase the General Motors axle, forge, and driveshaft driveline assets. Today, AAM is one of the top 100 automotive suppliers in the world. It is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock symbol AXL.

 Dauch’s reputation as an innovative manufacturing strategist and entrepreneur is widely recognized in North America and around the world.  In addition to lecturing extensively on the subject of world-class manufacturing, Dauch has authored a book titled “Passion for Manufacturing,” which is distributed in 80 countries in several languages and used extensively as textbook material at colleges and universities.  He has been the recipient of numerous honors during his career.

He was the 2006 recipient of the Shien-Ming Wu Foundation Manufacturing Leadership Award. In 2005, he received the CEO Legend Award from Automation Alley. In 2002, he was awarded the Wayne State University, College of Business Administration’s Michigan Executive of the Year and the Detroit Regional Chamber’s World Trader of the Year. Dauch was also named Detroit News Michiganian of the Year (1999), Crain’s Detroit Business Newsmaker of the Year (1997), Michigan Manufacturers Association Manufacturer of the Year (1997), and the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Industry Leader of the Year (1996), and he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor (1997).  Dauch has also been elected to both the SME College of Fellows and the College of Fellows of the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD). Dauch is a six-time Automotive News All star.

Dauch is the on the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and past chairman of the board of that organization. He also served as chairman of the Manufacturing Institute. He is a past member of board of directors of Detroit Renaissance, and sits on the Board of the Detroit Economic Club. In 2006, Dauch served as the general chair of the United Way for Southeast Michigan’s successful Torch Drive campaign. He is past chairman of the board of directors of the Detroit Regional Chamber.  He also serves on the boards and committees of many community and academic organizations and is actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America, Detroit Area Council and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, which presented him with its “Man and Boy Award” in 1990.  He has been instrumental in creating manufacturing and management curricula at several universities, including Purdue University, Lehigh University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dauch received an Honorary Doctorate of Management from Purdue University, Honorary Doctorate of Law from Ashland University and an Honorary Doctor of Commercial Science from Central Michigan University.

Panelist Perspective

Mr. Dauch will serve as a panelist for the “Structural Cost” Town Hall for the Manufacturing Discipline.

Manufacturing is a critical engine that helps drive the U.S. economy.  It is the highest contributor to economic growth of any sector, and provides more than 70 percent of private sector Research and Development. Over the past several months, we have all seen what happens when a critical component of that engine, the automotive industry, breaks down. The collapse of the housing market, the banking and credit crisis, deteriorating consumer confidence, fluctuating energy costs, and growing structural costs continue to inhibit America’s ability to compete in today’s global marketplace.

Structural costs are the enemy.
The best technology, innovative products, logistics plan and talented workforce will go for naught, if you cannot get your product to market in a cost competitive manner.  A U.S. market competitive labor cost structure is necessary to provide an appropriate profit margin that allows for reinvestment in people, products, processes and technology and a required return on your investment.

The issues facing American manufacturing today are numerous. Manufacturers cannot solve these structural cost issues alone. Many are the result of public policy decisions, or lack thereof, by our government leaders. Bloated and unpredictible costs for energy (due to the lack of a comprehensive energy policy), health care and pension expenses, taxes and regulatory costs, and trade barriers, all make it difficult for American manufacturers to compete in our own backyard, let alone in the global marketplace. Working with the President of the Unites States and U.S. Congress, we must continue to develop plans that address these issues and support manufacturing in the U.S. This will help ensure that America once more can compete globally, and provide a sustainable future for American manufacturing, generating wealth and employment opportunities for generations to come.