Richard E. “Dick” Dauch

Inducted 2019

Industry Leader of the Year Award 1996

A master of manufacturing 

Executive Chairman and co-founder, American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM); Dauch’s reputation as an innovative manufacturing strategist is widely recognized in North America and around the world.   

Dauch began his career in the auto industry at General Motor’s Chevrolet Flint Assembly Plant. He held several management and supervisory positions and in 1973, at the age of 30, became the youngest General Motors Plant Manager. In 1976, Dauch left GM for Volkswagen and became their Vice-President & General Manufacturing Manager. He was later promoted to Group Vice President and became a member of the Board of Directors in recognition of his influence of VW production in the United States. 

In addition to streamlining manufacturing operations and forecasting materials management, Dauch saw the holes forming in the American manufacturing and skilled trades workforce. Dauch was passionately outspoken about manufacturing’s role in the national economy and the importance of American manufacturing workforce to the national and world market. As someone who saw education as vital to the industry, he was instrumental in creating curricula specific to management and manufacturing at universities – impacting generations. 

In 1980, Lee Iacocca recruited Dauch to join Chrysler Corporation to resurrect the company’s ailing manufacturing operations. With his visionary, people-oriented, no-nonsense leadership approach, he planned and directed the implementation of Chrysler’s world-recognized, just-in-time materials management system and three-shift assembly system capability. 

Dauch retired from the Chrysler Corporation in 1991 as executive vice president Worldwide Manufacturing and formed a small investment team to create AAM. Richard Dauch was co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of American Axle & Manufacturing. Under Dauch’s bold and steady leadership, AAM has grown from five former GM plants located throughout the Midwestern United States to a multi-billion-dollar global company that is one of the largest and most respected Tier One automotive suppliers in the world. 


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