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Walter Baumann to retire from Honda New Zealand

Walter Baumann to retire from Honda New Zealand

Nelson Honda identity Walter Baumann has announced his intention to retire on 31st December 2002.

Walter joined Honda New Zealand in 1994 in the position of Production Manager of the Nelson Assembly Plant, and in 1995 he was appointed General Manager with overall responsibility for the Nelson operation.

This was a progressive time for the Nelson plant. Under Walter’s leadership two major models were tooled and introduced – the 1996 Civic and 1998 Accord, the latter built from world-sourced components under the newly-introduced Honda Motor Company Global Logistics Programme.

Another of Walter’s achievements was the successful implementation of engine assembly – still the only example in the New Zealand vehicle assembly industry of engines being assembled in this country from their individual components.

During this period huge advances were made in product quality. Following the major investments in paint and corrosion protection technology in the early 90s, Walter played a major role in implementing and maintaining Honda’s international quality management systems, the result of which was a standard of bulild quality from Nelson the equal of any Honda plant in the world.

When the removal of CBU tariffs led to the end of the local vehicle assembly industry in 1998, Walter and his team decommissioned the Nelson Assembly plant and sold the surplus assets. Then in 1999 the Honda Distribution Centre was established on the same site. From small beginnings this grew to process over 4000 new vehicles per year, together with the refurbishment and distribution of approximately 1000 ex-Japan used cars per annum.

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Following the recent sale of the Quarantine Road site, Walter successfully managed the construction of Honda’s new purpose-built distribution centre in Stoke, as well as taking care of the final disposal of the Quarantine Road assembly plant site and assets.

The Management and Staff of Honda New Zealand have greatly appreciated Walter’s contribution to the company and wish him and his wife Fay a long and happy retirement in Nelson.

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