Nissan's Dominique gets to the big dance

Nissan's Larry Dominique: "Not too many places play disco music anymore. But I still enjoy dancing when I get the chance."
Like many native Detroiters, Larry Dominique has the auto business in his blood. His father and grandfather worked in the industry. Dominique joined General Motors as an electrical engineer and later worked for Chrysler Corp. before joining Nissan Motor Co.'s fledgling engineering group in Michigan.

Fast forward two decades, and Dominique finds himself based in Nashville — and often on an airplane. He flew to Japan 18 times last year.

At Nissan, he is responsible for North American product planning. He oversaw the creation of the Titan pickup truck and Infiniti QX56.Name: Larry Dominique

Title: Vice president, product planning, Nissan North America Inc.

Age: 45

Personal life: Married, three teenage daughters

Lives: Franklin, Tenn.; Ladera Ranch, Calif.

Works: Nashville

Education: Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Mich.

Big break: “The chance to move from engineering to product planning at Nissan, where I could see how the whole picture comes together.”

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.

I used to be a disco dancing instructor. I'll tell you how I got involved in it. Back in the 1970s, a friend and I wanted to take lessons, and the class we signed up for had four women for every man. So the teacher said we could keep attending free as long as we kept coming.

Do you still disco?

Outside of Disney World, not too many places play disco music anymore. But I still enjoy dancing when I get the chance. My wife and I have taken ballroom dancing instruction. It's great fun.

Do you read blogs?

Sometimes. More often, it's because someone on my team has seen something on a blog and sends me the link. But I read autoblog, Edmunds and a couple of others. Freshalloy is a favorite for us around here at Nissan and Infiniti. I like to know when somebody has leaked our product information. I don't mind it so much when they're wrong.

How about a favorite Web site when you're on the road?

When I'm traveling, my schedule is really compact. I'll have 16 hours of meetings a day in Japan, and by the end of the day I usually just want to decompress. So I'll go to Wine Spectator's site. I'll check out CNN for the news back home.

How often do you travel to Japan?

I was there 18 times last year.

That's a lot of frequent-flier points.

I've got 3.5 million miles right now on Northwest. I think I logged 240,000 miles last year.

You're in Japan so much — have you thought about keeping your own apartment there?

No way. I wouldn't be able to get room service.

What do you carry with you when you travel?

My daughter gave me a pair of minispeakers for my laptop that are great for music. I like to have music with me when I travel. I keep music playing in the background when I work. Usually jazz. I love music.

What are your favorites?

I keep a wide range of stuff on my iPod, from Led Zeppelin to Norah Jones; rock, jazz, soft jazz. But I'm not a fan of classical music.

How do you keep your office so neat, given all your different projects?

I really try to avoid paper. I tell my team, “Don't bring any paper into my office.” I have a display screen on my conference table if they need to show me something. I tell them, “You're just going to hand me a stack of paper, and I'm going to end up throwing it away.”

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at

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