Don Jackson exits as Volkswagen plant manager

Don Jackson exits as Volkswagen plant manager

June 23rd, 2012 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Don Jackson.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Volkswagen announced a major management shift Friday.

The automaker will part ways with Don Jackson, president of manufacturing of Volkswagen Group of America, and will begin replacing many foreign employees with locally trained successors.

Jackson, the former Toyota guru, said he was ready to spend some downtime in Chattanooga after getting Volkswagen's $1 billion operation started.

"It is the right moment now to take a break and then pass on my experiences to regional business to help rebuild America's manufacturing base," he said. "The ramp-up of our plan is completed, and I know that the local team has the skill to improve our new plant to the next level."

Frank Fischer, CEO and chairman of Volkswagen Group of America, Chattanooga Operations, called Jackson's tenure "successful."

"Don's experience and advice was a crucial factor for the successful ramp up of the plant and the development of a local leadership team," Fischer said.

Fischer will assume Jackson's duties until a successor is named.

In total, more than 30 foreign service employees are taking new assignments worldwide, the company said.

Chattanooga will lose Lothar Grensemann, general manager for the paint shop, who is headed to another facility in Emden, Germany. Fernando Ribiero, general manager for controlling, will leave for Mexico.

Dean Parker and Tom Miller, respectively, will replace the the departing department heads.

The company released the information as Volkswagen's Chattanooga plant recently passed the 3,000-employee mark, drawing heavily from an eager pool of local applicants. The automaker expects the plant, which manufactures the award-winning Passat, to generate $12 billion in income, and lead to the creation of 9,500 additional jobs.

Fischer said the foreign employees had done well with the "challenging job" of building the new plant and hiring the new team from scratch.

"At the same time I am very proud of our new local managers who have developed within the company the last years," Fischer said. "They will be crucial for our future success in Chattanooga."