The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 5, 2013

Mercedes-Benz names new CEO for Alabama plant


Associated Press



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Markus Schaefer, the Mercedes-Benz executive who developed a plan to move Mercedes sedan production to Tuscaloosa County and then was named president and CEO of Vance plant, has been promoted to head of production planning for all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

Schaefer will return to Germany and work out of the company's headquarters in Stuttgart, effective July 1.

Mercedes named Jason Hoff, 42, to succeed Schaefer as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, the company's vehicle assembly plant in Vance.

Hoff worked for several years at the Vance plant in various capacities. His most recent position there was as vice president of logistics until November 2010.

He now handles procurement of Mercedes-Benz cars and vans at the Stuttgart headquarters, where he has overseen the global procurement-related preparations for the successor generation of the C-Class sedans, which will be produced in Tuscaloosa in 2014 for sale in North America.

Hoff's appointment also is effective July 1. He will be the fifth president and CEO of MBUSI in the plant's 20-year history.

Schaefer has been president of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Vance since July 2010.

He first came to Vance in 2002 as vice president of engineering for MBUSI, serving until 2007 when he returned to Germany as director of strategy for production for Mercedes-Benz cars, a post he held until he was named head of the Vance operations.

"Although I welcome this new opportunity, it is a bittersweet move for me," Schaefer said in a prepared statement. "I am extremely proud to be a member of this team and of all that we've accomplished over the past three years.

"Although I'm moving to a new challenge, I will always consider Tuscaloosa my home and cherish the memories of working with our team members and getting to know so many members of the community over the past three years."

Schaefer joined Mercedes in 1990 when he entered a trainee program at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant. He served as an operations engineer, planning engineer and production officer at Sindelfingen before becoming head of planning for the passenger cars. He also served as plant manager for Mercedes' Egyptian German Automotive in Cairo.

The Vance plant was founded in 1993 and started production in 1997, making the M-Class sport utility vehicle. GL-Class and R-Class SUVs were later added to the production line.

C-Class sedan production will start in 2014, and Mercedes has announced plans to add an entirely new model to the Vance production line-up in 2015. The fifth model has not been revealed.