Jeff Klei is retiring as president of Continental North America after a 30-year career with the auto supplier. He will be succeeded by Robert Lee, who has been with the company since 2014.
During his nearly 12 years as president of Continental North America, Klei realigned the business strategy and oversaw the growth of advanced driver assist and autonomous technologies.
"It's been an honor to work alongside Jeff for all these years," Continental North America CEO Samir Salman said in a statement. "His expertise has been invaluable to our growth. We wouldn't be where we are today without him, and we all want to congratulate him on a wonderful career."
Klei, 57, told Automotive News that the biggest changes he observed throughout his time in the industry was the shift toward wider collaboration and the growing importance of relationships after the 2008-09 recession. In fact, he said, relationships are the best resources available.
He said one of his proudest accomplishments is his advocacy for active safety systems in vehicles. In 2017 he testified before the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection, and that began a closer collaboration with the government, which he now considers a partner in saving lives through the potential use of new technologies.
Klei's retirement date is April 1, and he will work with Lee until then during the transition, said Continental spokeswoman Brianna Blust.
"Bob's very experienced, seasoned and well-liked in our company and in the industry, and he is well positioned to take over," Klei said. "My main focus has been to engage him with all the customers and industry partners and get out of his way. ... He is very capable."
Lee, 53, started his career at Continental in 2014 as CEO of Continental Automotive Korea. As president he will lead customer, government and external relationships, the company said.
"It's been a thrill to dive in with the team here, and I look forward to seeing what new opportunities we can tackle together to grow further," Lee said in a statement. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn alongside Jeff and congratulate him on a long, successful career."
Continental, based on Hanover, Germany, ranks No. 4 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive parts sales of $37.8 billion in 2018.