LOS ANGELES - The top Japanese executives of Maz-da's U.S. and Canadian sales organizations are being transferred back to Japan as part of a major consolidation of the company's North American operations.
Yoji 'George' Toyama, president of Mazda Motor of America Inc., will return to Japan at the end of July as president of an affiliate company that has not been identified.
Tsuneyuki Sudo, president of Mazda Canada Inc., will take up new responsibilities for Mazda's Thailand operations in August.
Toyama's position will not be filled, but Sudo will be replaced by Mike Benchimol, vice president of Mazda North American Operations and Mazda Canada.
The recalls of Toyama and Sudo follow Mazda's July 11 layoff of 285 staffers in the consolidation of its five North American companies. Affected employees were told either that they were laid off immediately or that they would be out of a job by the end of this year.
Mazda originally predicted about 400 layoffs would occur. Spokesman Tom McDonald said no more layoffs will take place as part of the reorganization.
The layoffs account for about 20 percent of each of the employee rolls of Mazda Motor of America, Mazda Canada, Maz-da North America Inc., Mazda R&D of North America Inc. and Mazda Systems Services. About 20 percent of the Japanese staff also was recalled to Japan.
The departure of Toyama and Sudo was a change from the plan outlined in May by Richard Beattie, president and CEO of Mazda North American Operations - the new umbrella company that will absorb the five old companies.
Initially, Toyama and Sudo were to remain as executive vice presidents and point men for Mazda's affairs. But with all subordinate vice presidents reporting directly to Beattie, the jobs of Toyama and Sudo may have been considered redundant.
Mazda U.S. sales were down 9.7 percent through June, after two straight years of sharp sales declines. Beattie said the decline reflects a sharp drop in fleet sales.
Toyama became president of Mazda Motor of America in March 1995 after serving as president of the Flat Rock, Mich., joint-venture plant with Ford Motor Co. Sudo joined Mazda Canada in November 1994 from Mazda Deutschland, the Mazda distributor in Germany. The Flat Rock plant was not involved in the reorganization.