MBSA plant appoints first local CEO

MERCEDES-BENZ South Africa has announced Arno van der Merwe as the company’s first South African-born CEO.

Arno van der Merwe
Arno van der Merwe

Van der Merwe, who will retain his current role as vice-president manufacturing at the East London plant, will take up the position from March 1. Outgoing CEO Dr Martin Zimmermann will return to Germany where he will become head of global service and parts for the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands.

Van der Merwe was only the second South African to head up the award-winning East London plant when appointed in 2012.

Van der Merwe said he relished the new challenge.

“In order to grow this company and contribute even more significantly, we have to engage people,” he said.

“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.”

The announcement made yesterday by parent company, Daimler AG (DAG), also accompanied a notification of changes to the board of directors at MBSA.

Former Daimler head Dr Jürgen Schrempp, a previous plant engineer in East London, has resigned from the MBSA board, having served the company in various roles since 1974. He has been replaced as chairman by Dr Joachim Schmidt.

Schmidt thanked Zimmermann for his hard work during his tenure at MBSA. “We are also confident that Mr 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.”

Zimmermann meanwhile welcomed appointment of his successor.

“I am proud of Arno taking over from me. He has been groomed systematically during the past years to take over this senior leadership role, and his experience, passion, dedication and people-oriented leadership style will allow MBSA to continue its drive towards becoming the undisputed leader in all segments where it competes.”


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