If you spend 43 years at the same company, you deserve a proper retirement. Dieter Zetsche began working as a research engineer for Mercedes-Benz in 1976. His commitment to quality led him to rise through the ranks, eventually becoming the CEO. He was also the congenial German character in the “Ask Dr. Z” ad campaign during the Daimler-Chrysler era. In a brilliant show of respect to their chief competitor, Dr. Z retires from Mercedes-Benz, and BMW responds.
He was responsible for the Chrysler Pacifica, Crossfire, 300, and the resurrection of the Dodge Charger. In fact, the Charger, Challenger, Hellcats and the 300 still ride on RWD chassis his engineers developed. Although he will no longer be calling the shots, Daimler elected him to their board of supervisors. After a mandatory 2 year sabbatical, he will gain this ceremonial position.
Stuttgart and Munich are both in Germany, but that is where the similarities end. Each company has a different culture, and this is clearly seen in the products they build. Nevertheless, “just as iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another”. Having an arch rival keeps you on your feet, and it forces you to constantly improve your products and yourself. Kudos to BMW for respecting Dr. Z, and to Mercedes-Benz for allowing him to lead the way. We wouldn’t have the Demon or Hellcat without him, so click the link below to find one near you.