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An executive with nearly 30 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 66 million dollars in profit.
In American Drive, Dauch narrates the story of AAM against the backdrop of his nearly 50 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By RDL on 12-18-12
A great company with a poorly constructed story
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Great story mistold with large amounts of repetition, overly general statements, bland business lectures and story lines that start and stop. There were times when I had to look at the chapter I was listening to see if I had accidently replayed an older chapter. Dick has a line in the book where he says he waged war on sloppy work. This book was sloppy work, so this makes it even more disappointing. While Dick does give some details of his work, I wish he did more details and less general statements or repeating details over and over again rather than offer new ones. Still there are moments in the book that are important to know so I’m glad I listened to it –it just took some effort.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
Most: How American Drive fought the UAW and the survival story from 2008-2009. Least: "Going from a five-cut, wet cut to two-cut, dry cut..." This may be the most repeated line in the book. Don't mind the details, but this seems to represent 90% of his technology advancement in the company based on the repetition.
What aspect of Pete Larkin’s performance would you have changed?
Pete did the best he could with the story he had.
If this book were a movie would you go see it?
I would see a movie about American Axle, but not one based on this book.
Any additional comments?
I wish I could have given this book five-stars. This great company deserved a better story.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful