A new CEO for Volkswagen Chattanooga was announced on Thursday. Frank Fischer introduced Tom du Plessis to all Chattanooga employees at a team meeting. Also introduced was Burkhard Ulrich, successor to Nicole Koesling, as incoming senior vice president of human resources for the factory. Former Chattanooga finance manager Brent Hinson returns from Volkswagen of America’s headquarters in Herndon, Va., to become senior vice president of finance and IT.
Fischer, who led Volkswagen Chattanooga Operations from 2008-2014, assumed the role of CEO again this year when the position was vacated due to an assignment transfer in May.
“Returning to Chattanooga was a very easy decision for me to make, and I was here in a matter of days,” Mr. Fischer said at a press briefing on Thursday. “The board asked of me two things: identify the right successor, and do whatever it takes to be sure Chattanooga is taken care of—the team and the factory—until that person is found.”
Whether it took one month or one year, Mr. Fischer said he was committed to supporting the factory.
“I had no idea how long it would take to find a new CEO who fit the bill,” said Mr. Fischer. “The Company was flexible with my role in order to make this possible, because this is how seriously we knew we had to take this decision.
“Today I am very proud to share the news with you that we have found the right person. I am convinced he is the right leader to take ownership, coach the team and bring them forward while steering the success of this factory and further expansion into our electric future.”
Mr. du Plessis previously was head of production at SAIC Volkswagen Automotive Co., Ltd., formerly known as Shanghai Volkswagen. He joined the Volkswagen Group in 2008 as the head of production for the company’s Uitenhage plant in South Africa. Prior to joining Volkswagen, he had an extensive career in the motor industry both at the manufacturer and supplier level.
During his previous assignment at SAIC Volkswagen, he managed 43 successful launches, one of which was Volkswagen’s first electric vehicle in China. He was responsible for nine factories including the development of three new plants, one engine plant and one battery assembly plant.
“Although I am new here, I already have a positive feeling about this factory,” said Mr. du Plessis to employees. “I feel confident about what’s ahead of us, and grateful to the team for the support and hospitality they have shown me today. I’m looking forward to becoming a Chattanoogan and delighted to be part of Volkswagen’s exciting future here.”
Mr. Ulrich is arriving from Germany, where he was management board member for human resources and organization at Volkswagen Osnabrück in Germany. He has been with the Volkswagen Group for 27 years. He has held several responsible positions in human resources management, management consulting, central human resources production, top management support and management policies.
Mr. Hinson, previously senior director of finance for the North American region responsible for regional controlling and financial planning, assumed leadership of finance and IT for Volkswagen Chattanooga in June. He has been with Volkswagen Chattanooga since 2009. At that time he was responsible for accounting, tax and customs until he was promoted to senior director of corporate controlling. In addition to the launch of the Chattanooga plant, his experience includes two other factory launches at both the manufacturer and supplier level.