Richard E. Dauch, the co-founder and executive chairman of American Axle & Manufacturing, died August 2, the Tier One automotive supplier announced. The company did not indicate the cause of his death. Dauch was 71.
Throughout a career that spanned five decades — highlighted by the establishment of AAM in 1994 — Dauch was frequently recognized for his contributions to automotive manufacturing, to the management style and technique, and to civic and social causes. Among these awards was Dauch’s installation in the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2012.
Richard Dauch earned a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial management and science from Purdue University, graduating in 1964, when he joined General Motors Corp. He became the youngest plant manager in Chevrolet history, and joined Volkswagen of America in 1976 as its group vice president of Manufacturing Operations.
Dauch joined Chrysler Corp. in 1980, as part of the historic effort to revive that manufacturing organization, planning and guiding Chrysler's just-in-time materials management system and three-shift assembly system capability.
With two other investors, Dauch purchased the General Motors axle, forge, and driveshaft driveline assets, creating American Axle & Manufacturing. He was its CEO from 1994 to 2012, and upon his retirement September 1, 2012, the company had established itself as a global manufacturer and one of the world’s top 100 automotive suppliers.
AAM designs and manufactures driveline and drivetrain systems for light trucks, SUVs, passenger cars and crossover vehicles, as well as commercial vehicles. It also produces driveline/drivetrain components and modules, chassis systems, and other formed products. It has seven manufacturing plants and three technical centers in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as manufacturing operations in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Poland, Scotland, South Korea, Sweden, and Thailand.
Dauch was a director of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and served as chairman of the Manufacturing Institute. He had been a director of Detroit Renaissance and a board member of the Detroit Economic Club.
Dauch is survived by his wife of 52 years, four children (including American Axle’s current president and CEO David C. Dauch), 16 grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.