Frank Macher, supplier executive who helped restructure Continental Structural Plastics, dies at 80

Frank Macher, a longtime automotive and plastics industry leader who presided over several Tier 1 suppliers, has died. He was 80.

The former Continental Structural Plastics Inc. chairman and CEO retired in 2017, credited as one of two top executives who saved the company from insolvency. Macher continued on with some consulting work while living on a lake in Charlevoix, according to a Monday news release.

Macher spent more than half a century in the automotive world. His seven years with Continental, starting in 2010, were marked by major strides in R&D that created specialty products, as well as international growth, a move to a new headquarters and “significant profitability,” the release said.

Macher’s help turning the company around came after the Great Recession decimated the automotive industry. He and a colleague implemented new IT systems, refinanced debt and then looked internationally for expansion opportunities.

Continental was sold in 2017 to Japan’s Teijin Ltd. for $825 million. The company Macher used to helm is now called Teijin Automotive Technologies after a recent rebrand. It is based in suburban Detroit.

Macher said in a statement around the time of his retirement that “serving as the CEO of CSP has been one of the most rewarding of all of the positions I’ve held, because we’ve been able to make such a significant impact in a relatively short period of time.”

“We took something that was very broken, and turned it into a world-class innovator for the automotive industry, and this is something I will always be very proud of,” he said. “I will certainly miss the day-to-day interactions with my team, but I know I’m leaving CSP in very capable hands as I retire for the sixth time.”

Macher’s career started with General Motors. Then he jumped to competitor Ford Motor Co. and worked there for 30 years.

He originally retired from Ford in 1996, with the title of vice president and general manager of automotive components. The next year, he took the top job at supplier ITT Automotive. For three years starting in 2000, he was chairman and CEO of another supplier, Federal Mogul, and then president and chairman of Collins and Aikman.

Macher also held board positions with Martinrea, Achates Power and the Detroit Historical Society, among others.

He is survived by four children, 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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