Dick Dauch


Entrepreneur, author, Krannert alumnus, Purdue benefactor and true blue Boilermaker Dick Dauch passed away at his home on Aug. 2. 2013. He was 71.

He and his wife of 53 years, Sandy, have been generous contributors to Purdue for more than 30 years, and the Dick & Sandy Dauch Alumni Center on Purdue’s main campus is named in their honor.

Dauch came to the University on a football scholarship and played fullback and linebacker for the Boilermakers from 1961 to 1963 while earning his bachelor's degree in industrial management.

Lee Iacocca recruited Dauch to Chrysler Corporation in 1980 to resurrect the company's ailing manufacturing operations. “Dick was practicing lean manufacturing and leading the quality revolution years before those terms became part of the business conversation”, said former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca. “He put his heart and soul into the auto industry, and the success of AAM is proof of this dedication”.

Following stints at Chrysler Corp., Volkswagen of America and General Motors, Dauch co-founded American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM) in 1994 and served as CEO until 2012. He served chairman of the board from 1997 until his passing.

He was the recipient of numerous professional honors, including Automation Alley's CEO Legend Award (2005), 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).

Dauch was known for his distinctive, direct, get-it-done style of management that helped AAM become one of the top automotive suppliers in the world. He co-authored a book about his experiences, American Drive: How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country, that was published in September 2012.

“I hope to live long enough to see one or more U.S. auto companies listed again among the Dow Jones 30,” Dauch wrote in his book. “But even if I don’t, I do believe U.S. manufacturing will continue to grow and prosper and lead our country back to a solid economic footing. It is already happening. We have only begun to show what we can do. Manufacturers in the U.S.A. have accepted the challenge of world competition and are poised for great things in the years ahead.”

In August, AAM's Board of Directors has named current President and Chief Executive Officer David C. Dauch to the additional position of Chairman of the Board.

"My father's vision, passion and leadership have transformed AAM into the leading global automotive supplier that it is today,” Dauch said at the announcement. “I look forward to leading the AAM Board and the management team in executing our profitable growth plan while building value by delivering quality, technology leadership and operational excellence for our customers around the world."


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