Heinz C. Prechter
Chairman and Founder
1942 - 2001
Heinz C. Prechter died Friday, July 6, 2001, in his Grosse Ile, Michigan, home at the age of 59.
In 1965 Prechter founded ASC Inc., a supplier to the worldwide automobile industry. Before the sale of Prechter Holdings, ASC was the flagship of a conglomerate of automotive, newspaper, real estate and investment companies with 60 facilities and 5,300 employees worldwide.
Born in 1941 in Kleinhöbing, Germany, Mr. Prechter began his automotive career at the age of 13 as an apprentice in automotive trim, tool and die making, and coach and body building. After completing his studies at Berufs-Oberschule in Nuremberg, Mr. Prechter furthered his education at Nuremberg's OHM Polytechnic Engineering School.
During his studies, Mr. Prechter gained a wide range of practical experience working for a number of German companies, including Faunwerke (a truck and military equipment supplier), Siemens (an electronics firm), and Deutz (a diesel engine manufacturer).
In 1963, he came to the U.S. as an exchange student. While studying business administration and English at San Francisco State College, he began installing sunroofs – a virtually unknown product on this side of the Atlantic.
Fifteen months later, in 1965, Mr. Prechter founded the American Sunroof Company (ASC Incorporated) in Los Angeles. He spent $764 on tools, a workbench from an old door covered with aluminum and a sewing machine from a junkyard. This one-man enterprise soon became well-known for its "custom" sunroofs, as well as its creative approach to supporting the development of specialty customization for the film industry.
In 2002, ASC was sold to Questor Management Co. L.L.C. Today, ASC Incorporated is a global specialty vehicle and systems company providing specialty vehicle design, engineering, prototype and production services; development and delivery of open-air systems, composite products and exterior trim; and development and distribution of aftermarket vehicle accessories. Located in Warren, Michigan, ASC maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and South Korea.
In addition to ASC, Mr. Prechter founded Heritage Network Inc., a group of Michigan companies involved in the transportation, hospitality and communications industries. His Heritage Network group included a weekly newspaper chain (one of the largest in the state of Michigan), a real estate development company, and a beef cattle business. In early 1997, he created Prechter Holdings, which owned the ASC and Heritage businesses.
Heinz Prechter was widely recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments, broad community involvement, and political achievements. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Harvard Business Club and received the Automotive Hall of Fame’s Automotive Industry Leader of the Year award. He sat on community and corporate boards, including those of Detroit Renaissance, Comerica Bank, and ThyssenKrupp’s Automotive Supervisory Board. In 2004, Heinz Prechter was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Mr. Prechter is survived by his wife and twin children.
Polytechnic Engineering School (Nuremberg, Germany) and San Francisco State College. In addition, Mr. Prechter participated in seminars at Harvard Business School. He also attended the Young Presidents Organization's "Universities for Presidents", a comprehensive education program covering topical social, political and economic issues.
Government and Industry Service
Center for Strategic & International Studies, Task Force on Policy and the Competitiveness of the North American Auto Industry
Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness
As Chairman of the President's Export Council during President Bush's administration, was involved in helping U.S. businesses get involved in exporting
Assisted in improving bilateral relations with Japan
Served as a catalyst in encouraging the Big Three to work together
Orchestrated the precedent-setting trade mission of 1992, in which government and business presented a united front to the world, promoting better communication and understanding between the U.S. and the world's most important industrial nations
Assisted the Bush Administration, as well as Congress and the Senate, to more fully understand the needs of the domestic automotive industry, which employs 20 percent of the nation's work force
Along with then-Commerce Secretary Robert Mosbacher, was one of the initial promoters of NAFTA
Participated in several key meetings throughout Mexico with President Bush and Mexico's President Salinas, to assist in ensuring NAFTA's success
Finance Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a partnership between government, business and civic leaders
Governor appointed board member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation
Board member of the Executive Committee of the Council on Competetiveness
Member of the Secretary of Commerce’s U.S. Automotive Parts Advisory Committee
U.S. Citizenship in 1972
Honorary Doctor of Engineering Degree, Eastern Michigan University
Honorary Doctor of Business and Industry, Ferris State University
Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, the University of Detroit
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree, Siena Heights College
Honorary Doctor of Laws, Northwood University
The American Academy of Achievement Award
The Harvard Business Club's Entrepreneur of the Year Award
1986 Michigan Industrialist of the Year (recognized by Impression 5 Museum)
1987 World Trader of the Year (recognized by the World Trade Club of the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce)
1988 Outstanding Business Leader (recognized by Northwood Institute)
Crain's Detroit Business' 1988 Newsmaker of the Year
1989 B'nai B'rith Great American Traditions Award
Horace H. Rackham Humanitarian Award
Automotive Hall of Fame's 1990 Automotive Industry Leader of the Year
Metropolitan Center for High Technology's Entrepreneur of the Year
Harvard Business School Club of Detroit's Business Statesman Award
A Detroit News Michiganian of the Year, 1991
United German American Committee of the USA, 1992 Distinguished German American of the Year
1996 Distinguished Service Citation Recipient, Automotive Hall of Fame
1998 True Friends Award, German American Heritage Foundation International
1999 Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient
2004 Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame
World Presidents Organization; Chief Executives Organization; Engineering Society of Detroit; American Society of Body Engineers; Society of Automotive Engineers; Society of Manufacturing Engineers; GMI Engineering and Management Institute, Automotive Hall of Fame; The Greater Detroit Interfaith Round Table; Vision 2000/SAE International; Center for Entrepreneurship (The President's Forum); Co-Chairman with Admiral Crowe of the World USO 50th Anniversary Celebration; the Detroit Renaissance's Project Development and Grand Prix Advisory Committees; the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest Inc.; the Michigan United Conservation Clubs; and the Board of Advisors, International Law Institute.
In addition to presiding on the Board of his companies, Mr. Prechter served as a Director of The Budd Company; ThyssenKrupp Automotive; ANX eBusiness; Exide Corporation; Henry Ford Hospital; Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County; Comerica, Incorporated; Founding Chairman and Director of Automotive Supplier Co-Operative; Greater Detroit and Windsor Japan-America Society; United Way for Southeastern Michigan; Detroit Economic Growth Corporation; The Economic Club of Detroit; and Member of the National Board of the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Prechter also served on the Advisory Council of Georgetown University; Henry Ford Community College Board of Directors and Board of Trustees; Eastern Michigan University's Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board; Wayne County Community College President's Advisory Council; the University of Michigan CAD/CAM Advisory Board; the Center for Creative Studies Board of Trustees; the U.S. Metric Association Advisory Board; the Board of Directors of the Michigan International Trade Coalition; the Board of Trustees for the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation; and the Dean’s Advisory Council at Boston University.
Detroit Heritage Fund; Business/Education Alliance; Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce; Southern Wayne County Chamber of Commerce; Private Industry Council; Metropolitan Transit Development Committee; Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority; International Visitors Council of Metropolitan Detroit; Detroit Renaissance Board of Directors and member of the Cultural/Arts Funding Task Force; Madonna College; Henry Ford Health System; Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan; Wyandotte Hospital and Medical Center; Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Fund for the 21st Century; and Board of Advisors, Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Vice-Chairman of the Edison Institute (Henry Ford Museum); The Hundred Club, Police and Fireman Survivors Aid; Kresge Eye Institute; Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Metro Detroit; Young Men's Club of Metro Detroit; United Foundation; Boy Scouts of America; Camp Fire-Detroit Area Council; Circle of Fellows, Michigan Cancer Foundation; Leukemia Society of America; Holocaust Memorial Center; Oakwood Hospital Foundation; United Way for Southeastern Michigan; and Chairman of the World Heritage Foundation.
“Heinz always wanted to make a difference, and
I do believe that is
what I should do, and it will honor his memory
Waltraud E. Prechter