The ‘man’ behind Detroit Reman

Blogs Jason Cannon August 14, 2013

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep.

If that’s true, Stefan Kurschner must be a pretty remarkable guy.

The out-going president of Detroit Remanufacturing has been appointed President and CEO of Daimler Vehículos Comerciales México effective September 1. He passes the torch to Sanjiv Khurana, who serves as CFO of Daimler India Commercial Vehicles.

Stefan Kurschner was presented with a gift of appreciation from his DMR Electronics employees Wednesday.
Stefan Kurschner was presented with a gift of appreciation from his DMR Electronics employees Wednesday.

A veteran of the German military, CDL holder and private pilot, Kurschner has lived on most of the habitable continents on the globe. But, more interesting than that is the company he’s leaving behind – a company he’s watched grow, evolve and thrive for the past four years.

In 2007, Detroit Reman saw an opportunity to take its remanufacturing business in a new direction – a direction many likely saw as unconventional. DMR Electronics was a small, private start up born out of a two-car garage. And Detroit Reman snapped them up.

How could something like that be of any benefit to a company like Detroit Reman?

Well, like this:

The tiny town of Hibbing, Minn. now serves as base for a remarkable stable of engineering and development talent.

And to call the company a simple remanufacturer is unfair to the 100-or-so men and women who scan their timecards in Bob Dylan’s hometown.

Sure, they remanufacture complex circuitry, but through that process they develop design improvements to help their parent company – Daimler – put better vehicles on the road, reduce warranty costs, down time and provide a better end user experience.

During a plant tour Wednesday, technicians Mike VanDuker and Deb Horn told how their team had developed a new soldering method inside an EGR actuator, which improved conductive contact between the metals. The housing was then sealed and tested. Once approved, their design was passed up the ladder – to Freightliner – who saw their “fix” as correcting a fundamental design flaw, where excessive vibration was causing a failure in the EGR valve.

What seemed like a simple fix changed global production of new EGR valves going forward.

As Mike and Deb relayed their story, pride beamed from their faces. They were proud of themselves, proud of each other and proud of what Detroit Reman had accomplished. And they were proud to tell that story.

Another success story comes in the remanufacturing of Detroit Diesel’s fifth generation engine controller (DDEC-V). That fact it could even be remanufactured was a victory. The circuit board is essentially wrapped inside its sealed metal case. It was never designed to be remanufactured. It didn’t look like it was even designed to be opened.

But, DMR engineers figured it out and saved hundred of thousands of pounds of scrap and metal from hitting the landfill.

“Detroit Reman is more than a remanufacturer of heavy iron,” Kurschner said as he announced the company’s plans to move its electronics units into a new, larger facility in Hibbing. “Through the growth and evolution of the Hibbing plant over the past six years and because of the creativity and passion of its employees.”

He’s absolutely right on both parts. In the hour-plus I spent in that plant, I’ve rarely seen a group of employees so excited to tell the story of their company.

And in keeping that kind of company, Kurschner and Detroit Reman has positioned DMR Electronics for future growth, and even more exciting and engaging stories from its employees.

Jason Cannon is Online Managing Editor for Truck Parts & Service.

You can follow me on twitter at @By_Jason_Cannon

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