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OBITUARY: Kurt Rudi Ziebart, Founding Father of the Ziebart Brand

In 1959, Ziebart started up an aftermarket establishment that provided automobile rust protection as its flagship service. Ziebart Rustproofing was a huge success that revolutionized the auto body protection industry. Ziebart became a household name that has evolved into an international franchise corporation headquartered in Troy, Mich., with approximately 400 locations in 30 countries. To this day, consumers around the world ask to have their vehicles “Ziebarted” — a true testimonial to Kurt’s legacy.

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TROY, Mich. – Kurt Rudi Ziebart, founding father of the Ziebart brand and company, died on Monday, Sept. 12 at his home in Williamsburg, Mich. He was 91 years old.
 
Ziebart was born in Kiesslingswalde, Germany, on July 27, 1920, to the late Karl and Amalie (Muschkewitz). He earned the prestigious German certification of Master Mechanic, or Meisterbrief, establishing his vast expertise in the processes and equipment involved in mechanical repairs. Ziebart went into business with his father, repairing and selling used automobiles in post-war Germany.  He married his wife, Edith Margot Jordan, on March 10, 1951, in Berlin, Germany. They immigrated to Detroit, Mich., in 1953 and had three children.
 
Ziebart was able to find work as an auto mechanic in his new home, but because of language barriers, decided to focus on body work instead. He noticed how unforgiving Michigan winters were on cars, and began designing a rust protection compound to remedy this problem, along with the tools necessary to perform the process. In 1959, Ziebart started up an aftermarket establishment that provided automobile rust protection as its flagship service. Ziebart Rustproofing was a huge success that revolutionized the auto body protection industry. Ziebart became a household name that has evolved into an international franchise corporation headquartered in Troy, Mich., with approximately 400 locations in 30 countries. To this day, consumers around the world ask to have their vehicles “Ziebarted” — a true testimonial to Kurt’s legacy.
 
In 1963, Kurt sold Ziebart Rustproofing and moved to northern Michigan, where he purchased a waterfront lot. He built a house that exhibited the same fine craftsmanship and attention to detail that he applied to everything he did. Refusing to retire, Kurt then founded Acme Motors Inc., a Mercedes-Benz dealership that allowed him to not only sell, but repair the German-made automobiles as well. Edith Ziebart took care of the accounting in the front office, and as their children grew older, it became a successful family business.
 
“Kurt is a humble man,” describes his daughter, Doris, in a March, 2010 issue of the Ziebart International Corporation newsletter. “He and his wife are private people. I know because they are my Mom and Dad. Interviewers generally write about my father’s accomplishments and various patents. His inventor’s creativity and curiosity set him apart, yet, there is so much more to this man than he would say about himself.”
 
Kurt enjoyed keeping active, even as he got older. He was physically fit, able to bench press 200 lbs., and was often mistaken for being younger than he actually was. He and his wife tended a 40 acre gentleman’s farm that included livestock and a garden. Kurt also enjoyed playing the harmonica, motorcycling, hunting and fishing. He was known to his neighbors as the generous man who lovingly distributed bags of seasonal fruit and insisted on snow plowing at least five driveways in the winter.
 
Kurt is survived by his wife, Edith; his children, Jenny Ziebart, Herb (Carolyn) Ziebart, and Doris (Leo) Hagedorn; his grandchildren, Erika, Rachel, Adam, Heather, Micah and Laura; and adopted children, Cate Gadbaw and Ken Bosko.
 
The Ziebart family would ask that Kurt be remembered through memorial contributions to East Bay Calvary Church, which he and Edith were actively involved in, or Munson Hospice. An online guestbook can be found at reynolds-jonkhoff.com, where visitors can share their thoughts and memories of Kurt.
 
 

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