Last week I lost a dear friend. Heinz Prechter died Friday in Detroit.
I have known Heinz for 30 years - half a lifetime. Thirty years ago I went to see him and his sunroof shop because everyone knew that I would like what he does - and, more important, that I would like him. I did, and we became great friends.
He was a remarkable human being. He had more energy than just about anyone else I ever met. He would start earlier and last longer than any of us.
Heinz had a passion for communication, whether he was selling you a feature for an automobile or getting you to vote for his candidate. He believed strongly in everything he did, and he had fun doing it.
In those early years, when we were both bachelors and trying to build our businesses, we traveled a lot. We showed up at just about every auto show in the world, getting to know as many people as possible. We were young, and there were a lot of worlds to conquer.
On one trip before the Frankfurt Auto Show, I spent the weekend with Heinz and his family at his family's farm in southern Germany. On Sunday night after dinner at a local restaurant, I struck up a conversation with a young lady at the next table. Although she resisted meeting this young German-American, I convinced her to say hello. A little over a year later, Heinz and Wally were married in her hometown in the celebration of the century. A little over a year later they had beautiful twins, a boy and a girl.
Heinz was the model of the successful entrepreneur. He started working with his hands in San Francisco and then Los Angeles. But his dream drove him to Detroit. And it was here that he founded ASC, which for many years meant American Sunroof. Now it's a lot more.
He was a booster for the automobile industry and for Detroit. He loved them both and spent a lifetime trying to make them both better.
I will miss him a great deal. He was a one of a kind. The world will miss him, too.