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.