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American Axle co-founder Richard Dauch dies at 71

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Richard Dauch, longtime automotive executive and co-founder of Detroit-based American Axle & Manufacturing has died. He was 71.

Dauch died Friday of cancer at his Bloomfield Hills home, according to the Oakland County medical examiner’s office.

He co-founded American Axle in 1994 after teaming with two investors on the purchase of GM’s axle, forge and driveshaft driveline assets.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Dick’s family and friends. All of us have lost a great friend and leader,” the auto supplier said in a statement.

Dauch was known as an innovative manufacturing strategist and entrepreneur. His “Passion for Manufacturing” is used as textbook material at colleges and universities, according to his biography on the American Axle & Manufacturing website.

He joined General Motors in 1964 after graduating from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and science, and later served as group vice president of manufacturing operations with Volkswagen of America.

Dauch also was executive vice president of worldwide manufacturing for Chrysler. He planned and directed Chrysler’s just-in-time materials management system and three-shift assembly system capability. He also oversaw the planning and construction of the Chrysler Technical Center in Auburn Hills, north of Detroit.

He is survived by his wife, Sandy; four children and 16 grandchildren.

Funeral services have not been finalized.

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