American Drive: How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country

Overview

Politicians, voters, executives, and employees all want the answer to one question: How can America compete with cheap foreign labor, and restore skilled, well-paying jobs to our economy? American Drive answers that question.

An executive with nearly thirty years in the trenches of the hard-nosed Detroit automobile industry, Richard E. "Dick" Dauch had long dreamed of running his own manufacturing company. From his first job on the plant floor at General Motors to his crucial ...

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Overview

Politicians, voters, executives, and employees all want the answer to one question: How can America compete with cheap foreign labor, and restore skilled, well-paying jobs to our economy? American Drive answers that question.

An executive with nearly thirty years in the trenches of the hard-nosed Detroit automobile industry, Richard E. "Dick" Dauch had long dreamed of running his own manufacturing company. From his first job on the plant floor at General Motors to his crucial role in helping to rescue Chrysler from the brink of bankruptcy, Dauch focused passionately, and relentlessly, on quality, productivity, and flexibility in manufacturing. In 1993 he took on the challenge of his life, buying a lagging axle supply and parts business from GM, along with five rusting, unprofitable, union-controlled, near-decrepit plants in the heart of a crime-ridden Detroit and a deteriorating environment in Buffalo, New York.

The newly created "stand-alone" company was named American Axle and Manufacturing. Dauch set out to create a world-class industrial automotive manufacturer. He bought and bulldozed the crack, liquor, and prostitution businesses that surrounded the company and rebuilt the plants. He upward educated, trained, and expanded the skill sets of the workforce, struck tough bargains with unions, and solved massive quality problems that were costing tens of millions every year and undermining customer satisfaction. Within one year of opening the doors, AAM had turned an astounding sixty-six million dollars in profit.

In American Drive, Dauch narrates the story of AAM against the backdrop of his nearly fifty years in the auto industry, from its glory days to its decline in the face of foreign competition, government bailouts, battles with unions, and the recent Great Recession. Tough, smart, inspiring, high-energy, and opinionated, Dauch offers memorable lessons on leadership, advanced product technology, communication, negotiation, and making profits in the most difficult times. Dauch's story transcends the auto industry and draws a blueprint for job creation, manufacturing competitiveness, economic growth, and excellence in America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A refreshingly different view of manufacturing that clearly identifies what is necessary to compete globally." —-Kirkus
Publishers Weekly
Dauch, a self-described “manufacturing missionary,” draws on his achievements and struggles as CEO of American Axle & Manufacturingto discuss the significance of manufacturing to the U.S. economy and offer pro-industrial policies to pursue. He insists that “he importance of manufacturing jobs cannot be overemphasized,” a persuasive message that resonates in today’s jobs-conscious economy. To Dauch, product quality is an absolute necessity achieved only by nonstop determination by workers and management, an insight presented as a contrast to prevailing lethargy and indifference. As a Tier One supplier to the Big Three automakers, his company’s fate largely rested on theirs, despite the quality of his work. Dauch’s managerial sympathies are manifest throughout, and he alternates descriptions of industry decline with tales of his efforts to build up his company by moving to “lean manufacturing,” revamping corporate culture, instilling leadership, and entering worldwide markets. He makes clear that “oday’s industrial environment is not your father’s factory floor”; so while the automobile supplier industry may not provide a reliable litmus test for industry generally, his own battles should furnish useful insights to would-be economic planners. With union influence on the decline nationwide and government bailouts forcing General Motors, Chrysler, and the UAW into a linkage of interests, perhaps Dauch’s account will herald the ending of an outdated model for hostile management-union industry relations. Agent: Robert Wilson, Wilson Media. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
With the assistance of Cox (Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862, 2005, etc.), automotive industry veteran Dauch (Passion for Manufacturing, 1993) provides a unique view of manufacturing and its role in the future of the United States. In the early 1990s, the author organized teams that built up American Axle and Manufacturing as a world-class competitor out of the relics of some of GM's former parts suppliers. In the '80s, he had provided the leadership on the factory floor that helped turn Chrysler around. When he took control of American Axle in 1994, the average educational level of the work force was 9th grade. Ten years later, the average worker was a community college sophomore. "You need a strong background in mathematics, science, computers and communications," he writes. "Modern manufacturing is not your father's factory floor." Dauch's quality reputation is built on lean manufacturing and the just-in-time inventory system. He and his teams modified the approach of W. Edwards Deming, who became legendary in the Japanese auto industry in the '50s. The author describes how he built up quality systems at Chrysler and then American Axle and how the process is organized from the design and engineering phase forward. Sometimes, writes Dauch, the United Auto Workers union would support his efforts, but most often the organization was obstructive. From a base in renovated 100-year-old factories in Detroit, American Axle has become one of the world's premier axle and drivetrain assembly manufacturers. Throughout the book, Dauch discusses his leadership philosophy and argues against the view that foreign competition is undermining American manufacture. A refreshingly different view of manufacturing that clearly identifies what is necessary to compete globally.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452610252
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2012
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author


Hank H. CoX is the author of Lincolon and the Sioux Uprising of 1862.

A former manufacturing executive at Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Volkswagen, Richard E. Dauch is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of American Axle and Manufacturing.

Pete Larkin, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993, served as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program, and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations.

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