Former GM exec LaNeve leaves the (car) door open for a return

Former GM executive Mark LaNeve: Back home in Detroit.

DETROIT -- Saying “so long” doesn’t always mean goodbye.

Take Mark LaNeve.

LaNeve left General Motors in 2009 to join insurer Allstate Corp.

Now, I’m not going to tell you he’s coming back to the car business. But I will tell you he is not ruling it out.

LaNeve resigned as chief marketing officer and senior executive vice president at Allstate on Monday. His exit was for “personal reasons.”

And that’s the truth.

I’ve known LaNeve for many years, having covered General Motors, where he served as vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing from 2005 until joining Allstate in Chicago in 2009. He was most known at GM for helping revive the Cadillac brand.

LaNeve openly supported many autistic charities. Both of his sons have autism, and they continued to live in the Detroit area for school and other care.

LaNeve told me via e-mail today that dealing with “their significant issues related to their autism was very difficult.” Combine that with commuting from Detroit to Chicago each week to keep his sons’ support system intact while he worked at Allstate became too much.

He wrote to me: “Recently, several complicated issues arose, especially with one son, which made it apparent that my full-time attention was required here at home in Detroit with them.”

In an e-mail, I asked LaNeve if he wouldn’t be tempted back to the auto industry now that car sales are on the rise and many automakers have returned to profitability.

He said he’s not sure when he’d be able to focus on his future. He is solely focused on the moment -- and that means helping his kids.

But he added in his e-mail: “Many people, including many dealers have asked if I was going back in the car business. All I can say is, I spent 28 years in the car business, loved it, served on many great teams, enjoyed a lot of success and made many friends, so of course it would be a possibility.”