MBSA gets first SA-born chief executive

Business Reporter

MERCEDES-BENZ yesterday announced its first South African- born chief executive to head up the international award-winning plant in East London.

Arno van der Merwe, vice-president of manufacturing at the MBSA production plant, was the second South African to head the factory in East London in 2012, and will be the first chief executive of South African birth to lead MBSA.

The announcement was made by parent company Daimler AG (DAG), which said Van der Merwe would take up his new position in March. “In life and in leadership I really believe that people make the difference,” Van der Merwe said.

“In order to grow this company and contribute even more significantly, we have to engage people. It starts with our own employees, but ultimately it is much broader than that – engaging our communities and stakeholders.

“If we want to achieve our common goals we have to work together with purpose. To have a guiding role in achieving this is a great privilege and responsibility, one that I look forward to.”

Van der Merwe will keep his role as vice-president of manufacturing at MBSA, in addition to his responsibilities as chief executive. It is not yet clear whether he will be based in Gauteng or East London.

He will replace current chief executive Dr Martin Zimmermann, who returns to DAG Stuttgart in Germany as head of global service and parts for Mercedes-Benz.

Zimmermann said he was proud of Van der Merwe and pleased that he was taking over from him.

“He has been groomed systematically during the past years to take over this senior leadership role, and his experience, passion, dedication and people-orientated leadership style will allow MBSA to continue its drive towards becoming the undisputed leader in all segments where it competes, as well as to remain a passionate contributor to the socio-economic development and transformation of South Africa,” Zimmermann said.

Yesterday’s announcement accompanied a notification of changes to the MBSA’s board of directors.

Prof Jürgen Schrempp has resigned from the board, having served MBSA in various roles since 1974. He was also the former chairman of the Southern Africa Initiative of German Business (Safri). Schrempp will be replaced as chair by Dr Joachim Schmidt, who had served as a member of the board while heading up DAG’s global sales organisation.

Schmidt said the board thanked Zimmermann for his tireless efforts during his tenure at MBSA and for steering the firm into a new strategic direction with an exceptional growth trajectory.

“We are confident that Van der Merwe’s strong track record of leadership and performance will further enhance the management team and the company’s goals for the future,” he said.

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