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Frank Hasenfratz, founder of Canadian supplier Linamar, has died at 86

Frank Hasenfratz, the founder and executive chairman of Canadian auto supplier Linamar Corp., has died at age 86.

The longtime powertrain parts supplier said late Saturday that Hasenfratz died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family. Linamar said Hasenfratz lost “a courageous battle with cancer.”

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of my father, Frank Hasenfratz,” his daughter and Linamar CEO Linda Hasenfratz said in a statement. “It was his vision and unrelenting drive that enabled us to build the company that Linamar is today. 

“He leaves a tremendous legacy on the Canadian business landscape, changed the lives of so many, and provided careers, livelihoods and opportunities for thousands of people. 

“He inspired and taught so many, myself most profoundly, and his spirit will live on in each of us as we continue to build the legacy of Linamar.”

Frank Hasenfratz was born in Hungary in 1935 and moved to Canada in 1957 following the Hungarian Revolution.

He began Linamar as a one-man operation in 1966 in the basement of his family home north of Guelph, Ontario, southwest of Toronto. His toolmaking and machinist experience, along with his determination, built the foundation for what has become a globally recognized multinational corporation that employs 26,000 people today.

The company went public in 1986. In 2001, Linamar acquired Skyjack as it diversified into industrial equipment. In 2003, it bought McLaren Performance Technologies to bolster its technical product engineering capabilities. In 2007, it acquired the All Wheel Drive business from Ford. The company entered the medical field in 2020 and shipped its first medical device units, mostly for ventilators in response to COVID-19.

“As a matter of corporate governance related to the executive chair position, the board of directors has a succession and renewal plan in place which will be implemented in the coming weeks and will be announced to shareholders and the public in due course,” Linamar said in its statement issued Saturday.

During his career, Hasenfratz was honored as the Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year, inducted into the Canadian Manufacturing Hall of Fame and the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, and was appointed to the Order of Canada.

His philanthropic endeavors included donations to Guelph General Hospital, Western University, St. Joseph’s Foundation and of the local performance arts. 

“Frank will most fondly be remembered in the halls and on the production shop floor at Linamar Corporation, where he mentored a generation of manufacturing and business leaders,” the company said. “At Linamar, we will continue to live by Frank’s words to strive to continuously improve, act quickly and decisively, set goals and track progress and always ‘Do What We Do Best, Better.’ ”

Linamar ranks No. 60 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers with worldwide sales to automakers of $3.2 billion in 2020.

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