Chain Sandhu, NYX Inc. CEO and chairman, died May 16 at his home in Northville, Mich., following a four-year battle with cancer. He was 78.
Born in Chandigarh, India, Sandhu immigrated to the U.S. in 1969 with just $8 to his name.
He found his first job in the U.S. as a janitor, and soon after, a job on the assembly line at General Motors. Later, Sandhu earned a position as a GM staff development engineer. At the time of his promotion, he was the first Indian to ever achieve a senior engineering title at GM, according to a release from NYX.
He worked for 18 years at GM in a variety of management positions before buying a majority stake in NYX, which, under Sandhu's leadership, became a 10-time GM supplier of the year and was named one of the fastest growing companies in Michigan by Crain's Detroit Business.
Today, the Livonia, Mich.-based firm has 17 locations and 4,200 employees in five countries.
"His dream was to create a company where people of all backgrounds, religions and languages would be welcome as long as they were willing to work hard," the company said. "Sandhu enjoyed spending time with his employees and started every day with a walk on the manufacturing floor to visit his people and 'to listen to what they have to say because there is wisdom there.'"
"Today, we lost a tremendous leader and trailblazer of the global automotive industry," Curt Clawson, former chairman and CEO of Hayes Lemmerz Corp., said in the release. "I met [Sandhu] in 2001, and we became fast friends. Since then, I have tried my best to emulate his authentic and humble example of leadership and life in general. He was the kindest man I ever met. We are all very hurt inside, by the loss of this wonderful husband, dad, and friend; our gentle giant."
"I have learned a lot from [Sandhu,]" Bo Andersson, CEO and president of Yazaki Corp., said. "For me, he was a different kind of businessman: humble, but at the same time very focused on being the best. I'm proud to have had the opportunity to spend quality time with him even in the end."