GROSSE ILE, MICH. - Heinz C. Prechter launched an automotive empire in 1965 with a $764 investment and a sewing machine rescued from a junkyard.
When he died July 6, the company he founded, ASC Inc. of Southgate, Mich., was producing $525 million worth of sunroofs, convertible tops and niche vehicles annually and had 5,300 employees worldwide. Prechter, 59, committed suicide at his home in Grosse Ile. He had suffered from clinical depression for several years.
The company requests that donations be made in his honor to the University of Michigan Depression Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Prechter turned day-to-day operations of ASC over to David Treadwell, chief executive officer of its parent company, Prechter Holdings, in 1997.
ASC launched its composite business in the 1980s with the production of a hard top for General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet Corvette. By 2000, the company created its Composite Systems unit to oversee a growing use of sheet molded compound and resin transfer molding to create limited production vehicles for carmakers. Prechter also was a member of the boards of Budd Co., ThyssenKrupp Automotive, Exide Corp. and ANX eBusiness.