American Drive

Richard E. Dauch with Hank H. Cox

St. Martin's Press

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 $66 million 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.


Read an Excerpt

The Wheels Come Off
Adversity has the same effect on a man that severe training has on a pugilist: it reduces him to his fighting weight.
—Josh Billings
It was late summer 2009 when I reached the rock bottom of my professional career in a highly visible and dramatic crisis that threatened economic doom for my company, American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), along with the trusty crew that had helped me create the company and steer it for sixteen years through the choppy waters that always beset the auto industry.3 I stood at my office window on the


Praise for American Drive

"A unique view of manufacturing and its role in the future of the United States...A refreshingly different view of manufacturing that clearly identifies what is necessary to compete globally."--Kirkus Reviews

“Leadership is difficult to define, but I know it when I see it. Dauch is a born leader whose ability to inspire loyalty and extraordinary performance is a natural phenomenon.” —Lee Iacocca, former chairman and CEO of the Chrysler Corporation

“The story of Dick Dauch and his success in business, in the community, and with his family makes a great read. There are important lessons for all of us—about discipline, courage, passion, education, competitiveness, loyalty, and values. Read it and marvel. Read it and learn.” —Dr. Martin C. Jischke, president emeritus, Purdue University

“Dick builds strong teams that share a desire for enterprise and personal success. He provides clarity of purpose, rules of engagement, and rewards systems that result in exceptional business performance.” —Jim McCaslin, former president and COO of the Harley Davidson Motor Company

“Dick is an inspirational leader, a straight guy, somebody you would follow over a hill out of your trench into battle. He has a terrific command personality. In my business, when you have a company with a good structural situation and investment premise, and your management is a ten, which is what Dick Dauch is, you’re going to have a terrific success.”—Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO, and co-founder of the Blackstone Group

“I most admire people who operate well in times of adversity. Even in the worst of times, Dick Dauch had a positive sense of the future and was committed to investing in the future.”—Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Blackstone Group

“Dick Dauch took a group of underperforming assets and built a business that is arguably among the top suppliers in the automotive industry by developing a vision that focused on execution, quality, and a can-do attitude.”—Roger S. Penske, chairman of the board and CEO of Penske Automotive Group, Inc.

In the Press

AMERICAN DRIVE by Richard Dauch, Hank H. Cox | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of AMERICAN DRIVE How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country. With the assistance of Cox (<em>Lincoln and the Sioux Uprising of 1862<em>, 2005, etc.), automotive industry veteran Dauch (<em>Passion for Manufacturing<em>, 1993) provides a unique view of manufacturing and its role in the future of the United States.
- Kirkus Reviews
Nonfiction Review: American Drive: How Manufacturing Will Save Our Country by Richard E. Dauch, with Hank H. Cox. St. Martin's, $27.99 (352p) ISBN
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
- Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Richard E. Dauch with Hank H. Cox

  • RICHARD E. DAUCH is chairman, CEO, and co-founder of American Axle and Manufacturing. He is a former manufacturing executive at Chevrolet, Chrysler, and Volkswagen, and has worked in the automotive industry for more than forty-eight years.

  • Richard Dauch


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American Drive

Richard E. Dauch with Hank H. Cox



St. Martin's Press