Salvador Munoz Zarate, Wabco Reman Solutions boss and former Remanufacturer of the Year, died in February at the age of 46. Adam Hill reports on the reman industry’s tributes to a valued colleague
The news was unexpected. When Salvador Munoz Zarate’s death on 1 February was announced, it was a shock for most of the industry - not least, of course, because he was so young.
He held a variety of senior positions at Wabco, and led the company’s remanufacturing business. Less than two years ago, Salvador was awarded the Remanufacturer of the Year (RotY) 2017 trophy for his work in lobbying policymakers worldwide on behalf of the reman industry.
“We are deeply saddened by Salvador’s passing,” says Philippe Colpron, fleet solutions global business leader, Wabco. “He will be greatly missed. For the past 15 years with Wabco, Salvador has been a driving force behind many key initiatives, including his leadership of our reman business. His passion, relentless drive and admirable ability to build deep and lasting relationship with colleagues and customers worldwide truly set him apart. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Peter Bartel of C-ECO, who was jointly awarded the RotY 2017 title, remembers Salvador as a man who listened to everyone and was able to bring people together. “I met Salvador at an APRA meeting, shortly after he took over responsibility for Wabco Reman,” Bartel recalls. “He addressed me directly with the question: ‘Please tell me how I can support the remanufacturing industry?’”
The personal relationships Salvador cultivated “gave him the possibility to build bridges between diverse interests and cultures and to bring all relevant parties to sit at the same table”. He cut through to the heart of a topic but respected people’s viewpoints. “He was the ‘maker’ behind the commonly accepted definition of remanufacturing in the automotive industry,” Bartel says.
Volker Schittenhelm at FIRM also recalls someone who tried to reach agreement in working groups and initiatives with VDA and CLEPA: “I met a friendly, positive and open person, that respected other people as well as their – even different – thoughts and statements…The reman family has lost a member.”
That sentiment is echoed by Nabil Nasr, director, Golisano Institute for Sustainability. “The world of remanufacturing truly lost a terrific champion and a true believer,” he said. “Salvador was passionate about reman and was always willing to lend a hand when there was a need for help. He will be truly missed and his work on behalf of the industry will always be remembered.”
MERA president John Chalifoux celebrates his “leadership and passion” while APRA Europe founder Fernand Weiland admired the determination with which he promoted reman to politicians.
There are some other common themes to the messages following his death. Salvador leaves a wife and three children, and many people offered their condolences to them, along with gratitude for their hospitality to business travelers who were sometimes thousands of miles away from their own homes. There was also a great deal about Salvador’s professionalism and impact on the remanufacturing industry. But it was his personal qualities which attracted perhaps the most striking comments. ‘Positive’ is a word that crops up again and again to describe him. Ekkehard Petzold, who worked with him at Wabco, said: “Salvador was a great source of inspiration, passion and energy - I admire his positive and creative thinking in difficult times up to his last moments. I lost a true friend and I miss him.”
APRA board member Joe Kripli remembers a staunch ally both at work and during downtime. “Salvador and I travelled all around the world for Wabco for four years,” Kripli says. “He vacationed at my house in Michigan with his family and I had dinner with his family in Hanover, Germany. I remember being in Beijing on a Saturday at the Forbidden City. It was freezing, but Salvador was not one to just sit inside on a Saturday so we went there and froze our butts off. There were only, like, 20 other people there. We had some great experiences: I enjoyed going to customers with him to make presentations because he could speak four languages - no one could sneak anything past us!”
There was an outpouring of comment on LinkedIn (see below) when his death was announced from many people, including Wabco colleagues. Pawel Zarek “admired his passion for making this world a better place hand in hand with doing the business”, while Edyta Erbel remembers a man who was “very positive, passionate about life and work, always ready to give support”.
J. McLeod, vice president, communications at Wabco Vehicle Control Systems, urged well-wishers to “try to respect his memory through giving back the friendship, fun and values he shared with us”.
Teamwork certainly meant a great deal to him. As the confetti had rained down at the RotY Awards in Amsterdam, Salvador was surprised and pleased. But he soon spotted a problem: the trophy was only engraved with his name – not that of his company, Wabco. “The jury
had decided to personally honour both him and Peter Bartel for their hard work in terms of lobbying for remanufacturing at the United Nations, European Union and other important institutions,” explains ReMaTec show organizer Niels Klarenbeek, director, reman & refurbishment at RAI Amsterdam.
“I thought this was very well deserved. But Salvador rather wished that it had the Wabco name on it. He argued that his employer enabled and allowed him to spend his time on lobbying efforts while his team at Wabco Reman Solutions looked after his business while he was away. It had been a joint effort and Salvador wished to honour all his colleagues who supported him. He was a modest, loyal and committed professional making his efforts for the greater good, the remanufacturing industry.”
For all Salvador’s professional success, Joe Kripli puts his finger on the core of what made him tick: “He really loved his family and talked about them all the time.” Wabco’s J. McLeod concludes: “Salvi was all about family, was incredibly smart, lived with deep loyalty and he always demonstrated the most incredible dedication and personal humility. Hearts are heavy.”