David Dauch American Axle PHOTO: AAM

My father was an icon in this industry.”


Title: Chairman, President & CEO
Company: American Axle & Manufacturing
Industry: Automotive
Degrees / Honors: BS, Production/Operations and Purchasing Management: Miami University (Ohio)


The IndustryWeek Leader of the Week highlights the manufacturing leaders, executives and stars who are driving growth in today's industry and helping to shape the future of manufacturing.

Leadership & Strategy: Leadership Lessons from A Father

Like so many others in the automotive industry, the head of American Axle & Manufacturing turned to the late Richard Dauch for leadership direction.

Like so many others in the automotive industry, the head of American Axle & Manufacturing (IW 500/278) (AXL) turned to the late Richard Dauch for leadership direction.

Known for his innovative manufacturing strategy and transformative management roles at GM (IW 500/5) (GM), Volkswagen (IW 1000/7) and Chrysler, Richard Dauch left a legacy of leadership when he passed away in August 2013.

But to the current chairman, president and CEO at AAM, Richard Dauch was also a father.

"My father was an icon in this industry," David Dauch said.

"A lot of the foundation that I operate from today is from my father," he said. "He taught not only myself but a lot of other people, and he reached a lot of people in a positive way over the years."

Richard Dauch 20 years ago co-founded AAM and helped shape it into the $3.2 billion automotive manufacturing global powerhouse it is today, remaining on as chairman of the board until his passing.

And, since September 2012, his son has taken the reins as president and CEO, carrying on the Dauch tradition.

"All I try to do is look at things half full instead of half empty and be a catalyst for change, positive change and exude that confidence and pass it on to our associates internally," David Dauch said.

That's why David Dauch regularly meets with cross-sections of employees – diagonal slices through the organization, as he said – to get feedback and "get an idea of what's on their mind and be in tune with what they're looking for."

"It's important to be in touch with your organization and understand what excites them, what doesn’t excite them, and what recommendations they have to try to make our organization move forward," David Dauch said.

He wants to spread the message and keep the company unified, even as it expands globally. AAM, at one time a completely domestic operation, now has two-thirds of its workforce overseas.

"When we go to a country, we're a guest in that country," he said.

"Therefore, we take very seriously their cultures, their language, things that are important to them, and we try to integrate that into our business as much as we can without losing our standards, cultural values and our policies and procedures and our principles."

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