Former Great Dane Executive Charles Fetz Dies at 60

Great Dane refrigerated trailer
A Great Dane reefer at MATS. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Charles Fetz, a former vice president of design and development at Great Dane whose efforts led to several product innovations at the trailer maker, died unexpectedly at home Oct. 25. He was 60.

Fetz retired in 2016 after what the company said was a celebrated career in engineering that spanned four decades with Savannah, Ga.-based Great Dane.

“Charlie was a stalwart champion of structural integrity and is largely responsible for Great Dane’s reputation for strong and durable products,” said Rick Mullininx, Great Dane’s executive vice president of engineering. “Yet, he was also forward-thinking.”



Fetz was the inventor or co-inventor on 16 U.S. and foreign patents, including the company’s exclusive ThermoGuard liner and RIG30 rear impact guard.

Fetz was active in American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council, for which he served on the Future Truck Committee. Also he was on the Trailer, Bodies and Material Handling Study Group, serving as chairman for several task forces, including the Future Trailer Productivity Task Force.

While chairman of the TMC task force, he authored the white paper “Increasing the Efficiency of Pre and Post Trip Inspections,” which led to the development of Great Dane’s telematics solution, FleetPulse.

At the same time, Fetz served many years on the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association’s Engineering Committee, including a term as chairman. Many of TTMA’s recommended practices have been subject to Fetz’s keen edits, Mullininx said.

“Although retired, we lost a gentle giant in our industry whose impact will be felt for years to come,” Mullininx said.

He earned a Master of Engineering degree from the University of South Carolina.

His family remembered him as a quiet and thoughtful man who showed his love for them in countless ways, always had their best interests at heart and who could be counted on for well-considered advice and guidance. Since retiring in May 2016, Fetz enjoyed traveling extensively with his family. He is survived by Courtney, his wife of 37 years, sons Jonathan and Christopher, his brother, Richard, and his mother, Janet.