Heinz C. Prechter
The Heinz C. Prechter Award for Automotive Excellence honors the work, life and memory of Heinz C. Prechter, founder of the American Sunroof Company (now ASC Incorporated) in Los Angeles. Born in 1942 in Kleinhobing, Germany, Prechter began his automotive career at the age of 13 as an apprentice in automotive trim, tool and die making, and coach and body building.
In 1965, he spent $764 on tools, a workbench from an old door covered in aluminum, and a sewing machine from a junkyard to start the American Sunroof Company (now ASC Incorporated). Today, ASC Incorporated is a global specialty vehicle and systems company providing specialty vehicle design, engineering, prototype and production services; development and delivery of open-air systems, composite products and exterior trim; and development and distribution of aftermarket vehicle accessories. Headquartered in Southgate, Michigan, ASC maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, Germany and South Korea.
Prechter also founded Heritage Network Incorporated, a group of Southeastern Michigan companies involved in the transportation, hospitality and communication industries. He was widely recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments, broad community involvement and political achievements. The Prechter family founded a non-profit organization called the World Heritage Foundation in 1985 to help make a difference in the areas of health, education, welfare, arts and culture and the community. After the tragic passing of Prechter in July 2001, General Motors Corporation donated the #2 Chevy SSR to the SAE Foundation to provide the seed funds to establish the award in honor of Heinz Prechter. Prechter's company, ASC, Inc. developed the unique convertible roof for the SSR. It was the last vehicle project he worked on before his death.
Prechter came to the United States as an exchange student and succeeded beyond most expectations. Throughout his career he was deeply committed to giving back and opening doors for the next generation. He felt he was blessed with opportunities and as a result wanted to share his spirit and enthusiasm for the industry he loved. He challenged everyone who knew him to strive for excellence and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. Heinz Prechter epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit and the Prechter Award committee felt the best way to honor his memory was to encourage young entrepreneurs in the automotive industry by providing seed funds that would enable them to bring their ideas to fruition.