FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany – On March 1, Helmut Ernst (55) will take up the reins as new chairman of the board of directors of ZF Services. The experienced industry expert will steer the Aftersales Business Unit of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, expanding its range of telematics solutions and other tailor-made services for tomorrow’s mobility requirements. His predecessor, Alois Ludwig (66), who has been instrumental in shaping ZF Services, is passing on the baton to Ernst to begin his retirement.
“The always-on society will develop rapidly in the coming years,” said Ernst, looking at the challenges but also the bright prospects for the ZF Services portfolio. “This will again accelerate the networking of vehicles and infrastructure around the globe. The connected workshop will evolve into a mobility manager, recommending maintenance or preventive repairs to vehicle owners as appropriate. We will develop the online services necessary for this and offer them to our customers.”
Ernst has been working side-by-side with Ludwig since July 2014, making himself familiar with the day-to-day operations of the business unit and getting to know the international locations and customers. Now that the seamless transfer of the operative management role has been completed, Ernst gave an initial summary of the unit’s upcoming goals in a press conference.
“Efficient and effective data handling opens up new, attractive business models to many operators on the market. I firmly believe the independent aftermarket with solutions from ZF Services will profit from the dynamic changes in the mobility industry,” said Ernst.
Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG, took the opportunity of the changeover to thank Ludwig for his decades of successful work. “He was a driving force behind various mergers and led the business unit to new heights within the ZF Group as well as on the international aftermarket,” said Dr. Sommer.
He stressed Ludwig’s special contribution to the global development of ZF Services, which always maintained its focus on customer requirements. “Alois Ludwig not only applied his vision to shape the development of ZF Services from a parts to a solution supplier, but also worked in various industry organizations to promote valuable initiatives dedicated to strengthening quality-consciousness and technical know-how,” said Sommer. “With Helmut Ernst, ZF gains an adept successor and respected manager with international experience on the aftermarket, especially on the Asian markets so crucial to ZF.”
Ernst studied at the University of Applied Sciences in Gießen, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Precision Mechanics and Petroleum Chemistry. After graduating as an engineer, he started his career in 1985 as head of production management at Continental. Following further activities in general management, he took on leadership responsibility at Continental Automotive Aftermarket with a focus on Europe, Asia and the U.S.
In 2007, Ernst was named vice president of the independent aftermarket at Continental, and managing director of Continental Automotive Aftermarket GmbH, headquartered in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. In addition, he was head of the regional sales organization of the Commercial Vehicles and Aftermarket Business Unit. During this period, he was responsible, among other things, for integrating the aftermarket activities of VDO and Omitec Diagnose after their acquisition by Continental. He also took charge of establishing aftermarket activities in South America and China, and developing additional product lines for the spare parts business.
Ludwig joined Boge GmbH in 1970 after completing his training as an industrial manager. In various leading positions at Mannesmann Sachs AG, he was in charge of international sales in the independent spare parts market. In 2002, he bundled the aftermarket trading activities of ZF, merging the companies Sachs Handel and Lemförder International. Next, he became CEO of the new ZF Trading GmbH and in 2008 managed the fusion of ZF Trading and the company’s sales and service organization to create ZF Services. One year later, ZF’s customer service activities also were absorbed into the ZF Services business unit. Thanks to Ludwig’s exceptional talent for integration, these mergers quickly resulted in optimized processes and a steadily growing reputation in the aftermarket. As CEO of ZF Services, he was responsible, until February 2015, for the business unit’s worldwide service and trading activities with the product brands Sachs, Lemförder, Boge, ZF Lenksysteme and ZF Parts.
Ludwig also was always committed to the development of the industry as a whole, the company adds. This led to his activities as an initiator of industry organizations including VREI or Teilen e.V. and his active support for initiatives such as Qualität ist Mehrwehrt (Quality is Added Value).
As he himself pointed out, “The aftersales market lives from the responsibility and sense of community of all professional competitors. Industry organizations are only successful when each individual member is committed to quality assurance and the evolutionary further development of the market.”