Bendix announces chairman’s retirement, divests fan drive business

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Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has announced that it has completed the sale of its fan drive/clutch business and related assets to Kit Masters Inc. for an undisclosed amount. The company also announced the retirement of chairman Bob Oswald.

Kit Masters, a Perham, Minn.-based manufacturer of heavy-duty aftermarket components, specializes in remanufactured fan drives, rebuild kits and related accessories. The transaction – which closed Dec. 21, 2009 – immediately divests the assets associated with the Bendix fan drive operations to become a part of the Kit Masters product offering.

Kit Masters will manufacture, distribute and sell fan drive products under the existing Torquemaster, FD-1, FD-3 and FD-L brand names. The Elyria, Ohio-based company says the divestiture will provide Bendix CVS the opportunity to continue its increased focus on expanding system solutions in the areas of energy management, specifically fuel savings and emissions-reducing technologies for diesel-powered commercial vehicles.

Oswald was appointed chairman of Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems in October 2003, after serving as chairman and chief executive officer since March 2002. During his tenure at Bendix, Oswald served as a key strategic driver for the company as it disaggregated from Honeywell’s business services. With more than 45 years of experience as a leader in the automotive and heavy-duty industries, Oswald assisted Bendix leadership in identifying and integrating centers of competency throughout the Knorr-Bremse group. He was a key factor in the company’s development of a cohesive global market plan aimed to best meet the expectations of a growing, worldwide customer base.

“We are extremely fortunate to have had Bob as a vital part of our senior leadership during the past eight years, and we are appreciative of his outstanding commitment and exceptional counsel,” says Joe McAleese, president and chief executive officer of Bendix. “He has been a strong and insightful resource for me, and his vast industry experience and broad contact base have been an excellent complement to the Bendix leadership team as our organization has evolved and grown.”

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Prior to joining Bendix, Oswald was chairman, president and CEO of Robert Bosch Corp., the North American subsidiary of the Stuttgart, Germany-based Robert Bosch GmbH. He also was a member of the Bosch board of management. Oswald joined the Bosch organization in 1989, and held his board and North American management positions from July 1996 until his retirement in December 2000.

Oswald is also CEO and a director of Paice (Bonita Springs, Fla.) and a member of the board of directors of Perceptron Corp. (Plymouth, Mich.) as well as Dura Automotive Systems (Rochester Hills, Mich.). He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and is past general chairman of the SAE International Congress & Exposition. In addition, he is on the board of trustees at Kettering University, and was a member of the founding board of OESA (The Original Equipment Suppliers Association).