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Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

Old 09-06-2007, 11:59 AM
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Default Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

Interesting stuff:

Top Toyota North American Exec Jim Press Jumps to Rival Automaker Chrysler

DETROIT (AP) -- Chrysler pulled off a major coup Thursday, hiring away the highly-regarded Jim Press, Toyota's top North American executive, to run its sales and marketing operations.

Press, 60, formerly president and chief operating officer for Toyota in North America and the first non-Japanese member of Toyota Motor Corp.'s board of directors, will become Chrysler vice chairman and president.


He joins new Chairman and CEO Robert Nardelli and Tom LaSorda on Chrysler LLC's top management team. LaSorda already has and will retain the same titles as Press.

LaSorda will run the company's manufacturing and purchasing operations, while Press will handle sales, marketing and product strategy, said company spokesman Mike Aberlich.

Hiring Press is Chrysler's second major executive announcement since August, when private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP took control of 80.1 percent of the company from DaimlerChrysler AG. Cerberus announced Aug. 6 that Nardelli, a former Home Depot Inc. CEO, would become Chrysler's Chairman and CEO.

Press' resignation will be effective Sept. 14, Toyota said.

"Tom LaSorda and I are thrilled that one of the most successful executives in the history of the auto industry has joined our leadership team at the New Chrysler," Nardelli said in a statement.

Toyota said Shigeru Hayakawa, a Japanese veteran at the company and Toyota managing officer, would be the new president of Toyota North America.

"Toyota has been the centerpiece of my life. This was the most difficult decision I have made," Press said in a statement.

Press, an American, has been with Toyota for 37 years. His rise at Toyota was widely seen as furthering the company's effort to bolster its standing as a multinational corporation.

"Jim has played a significant role in strengthening Toyota's presence in the U.S," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said. "I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to all he has done for Toyota."

Press will be asked to help turn things around at Chrysler, which has had problems of late in its sales and marketing operations.

Press comes to Chrysler with a great record of success at Toyota, which has seen continued sales increases in the U.S. for the past several years. The hiring comes as Chrysler's sales have been dropping and it has tried to repair fractured relations with its dealers.

"You can't argue with the level of success that Toyota has had," Aberlich said. "The way they've developed the car side of the business, the way they've developed their relationships with dealers."

Aberlich said hiring Press is no reflection on LaSorda, who was demoted from chairman and CEO when Nardelli was hired.

"The guy is such a remarkable get that you're going to do it," Aberlich said of Press, equating the hiring with a baseball team bringing another power hitter onto its roster.

Chrysler would not comment on Press' compensation package, and because it now is a private company, details likely will be kept quiet.

But Aberlich said the compensation will be tied to Chrysler's performance.

"He'll help turn us around, and he'll be rewarded," Aberlich said.

Also in August, Chrysler hired away a top marketing executive from Toyota's Lexus luxury brand. Deborah Wahl Meyer, 44, was named vice president and chief marketing officer.

Chrysler and its financial arm earned $549 million in the second quarter but would have posted an operating loss were it not for accounting changes due to the sale to Cerberus. But Chrysler's $618 million loss in 2006 sparked a major restructuring and eventually the sale.

Press, who makes no secret of his admiration for Toyota's Japanese cultural virtues as a key force of the automaker's strength, has been
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:18 PM
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Default RE: Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

more on the topic from San Antonio Express-News, 9-7-07:

Chrysler pulls coup on Toyota

U.S. firm lures away president
of North American component

The automobile industry was reeling Thursday morning with the news that Toyota Motors North American President Jim Press had defected to Chrysler LLC.
“It came as a total shock,” said Michelle Krebs, editor of Edmunds “It's a coup for Chrysler.”
Press was the highest-ranking non-Japanese executive at Toyota Motor Corp.
In June, Toyota shareholders elected him to the board of directors, making him the first non-Japanese person to hold a seat on the board.
His departure comes after 37 years with Toyota.
“He wasn't going any further at Toyota,” said George Magliano, auto industry analyst for Global Insight Inc. “He wasn't going to run Toyota. They put him on the board. That was a tribute to his talent and how he was respected there.”
Press becomes vice chairman of Chrysler LLC and will share the presidency with Tom LaSorda.
LaSorda will run the operations, while Press will head up marketing. Both will report directly to Chairman Robert Nardelli.
“I relish this new opportunity with the Chrysler team to be a part of the resurgence of a true American icon here and around the world,” Press said in a statement. “Part of my new responsibilities will be strengthening and energizing the dealer body. This is something I was passionate about at Toyota and will be passionate about at Chrysler.”
Across the industry, analysts praised the move by Chrysler's parent, Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus bought the automaker from Daimler this summer.
There were concerns that Nardelli, the former chief executive of Home Depot, would cut Chrysler to the bone in preparation for a quick sale by Cerberus.
“I think it's a great move,” Magliano said. “It's a terrific move on Cerberus and Chrysler's part. I think it really sends out a terrific message. People were saying when they brought Nardelli in there, ‘He's not an auto guy.' Cerberus said, ‘We've got some good people and whatever we need we'll go out and get.'.”
Chrysler officials aren't talking about what it took to get Press away from Toyota. Analysts know Cerberus had to pay a hefty sum to get him to leave. But there had to be more than money involved, said Jack Nerad, senior market analyst and editorial director of Kelley Blue Book.
Aside from a “wheelbarrow full of money,” Press now has the chance to get back into the automotive marketing fray, Nerad said.
“Jim loves the dealer interaction,” he said. “He loves to be a major player. He advanced to the point where he wasn't operationally involved.”
Press joined Toyota in 1970 and worked his way through the ranks to head Toyota Motors North America. Before that he was the head of Toyota Motor Sales USA and was key in pumping up the sales and marketing of the redesigned Toyota Tundra built in San Antonio. He made numerous trips to Texas before its launch.
Press also is credited with developing a strong dealer base for Toyota during its quest to be the world's largest automaker.
“The dealers are an important asset to us for what the customers want,” Toyota Motor Sales USA spokesman Mike Michels said. Press “developed an exceptional positive relationship with our dealer bodies. He spent a lot of time listening to what our dealers tell us and customers tell us.”
Chrysler desperately needs to repair its relationship with dealers. An oversupply of vehicles last year put dealerships and the automaker at odds.
“We got a little bit in the soup with our dealers in the middle of last year,” Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said. “He has a good reputation with dealers. They are at the front line, and Toyota is always at the top of the charts with its dealers.”
Feedback from Chrysler dealers was starting to come into the automaker's Detroit offices Thursday afternoon, and it was overwhelm
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:29 PM
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Default RE: Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

He probably just wanted a new challenge. 37 years at one company is a long time to be in one place.
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Old 09-06-2007, 02:34 PM
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Default RE: Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

Yea, and I'm sure the package offered was nice as well.
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Old 09-06-2007, 05:29 PM
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Default RE: Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

That sounds like good news to me. A step in the right direction for the "new" Chrysler. Now if Chrysler can just make cars as reliable and long lasting as Toyota.
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Old 09-06-2007, 05:46 PM
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Default RE: Toyota N.American Exec Jumps to Chrysler

They will. All the Challengers will be perfect. None of us will ever have any problems with any of them. We'll all spend the rest of eternity smiling about our purchases of them.
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