LOS ANGELES - When Pierre Gagnon took over from Dick Recchia as COO of Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America Inc., he saw an unsettling trend in his executive ranks: too many one-trick ponies and not enough executives with broad industry knowledge.
He says his fears were realized in February, when retail operations honcho Kevin Ormes quit to run a dealer group in New Jersey.
'There wasn't a lot of cross-training. I'm more used to an organization where you move your executives around so they have the big picture in mind when they make decisions,' Gagnon said last week.
'If you want good leaders, you have to expose them to a lot of philosophies. You have to have those basic skills.'
Said Jackie DeMaria, Mitsubishi director of human resources: 'We had no ready candidate to take Kevin's place when he left.'
So last week, in finally naming Ormes' replacement, Gagnon also restructured the marketing, product planning and corporate planning departments.
Taking Ormes' place will be Greg O'Neill, a sidekick from Gagnon's days at GM Canada. In addition to 18 years in sales, parts, service and fleet with GM's Canadian, African and Egyptian operations, O'Neill was a partner in a Canadian dealer group.
He came to Mitsubishi last year as director of the North Central region.
In his new post, O'Neill will oversee Mitsubishi's distribution, logistics, field operations, franchise development, sales, parts, service, fleet and remarketing.
Gagnon also changed Mitsubishi's human resources management to begin providing more two- to three-year job rotations in diverse fields.
Also, exact responsibilities were given to marketing, product planning and corporate planning because, Gagnon said, the departments previously overlapped and lacked accountability.
From now on, product planning will handle product development until 18 months from launch, when it will be taken over by marketing. Corporate planners will become business-plan gurus, looking solely at the big picture.
'Product planning was getting into pricing and equipment, and that's marketing's job,' Gagnon said.
'Now they are the interface with engineering, the design staff and the plants.'
The new vice president of marketing will be Katy Bremer, promoted from director of corporate logistics and distribution. She replaces Frances Oda, who will take Bremer's old post, but with a vice president's title and authority also over retail development.
In the other departments, Michael Krebs heads product planning from his post in product strategy. Rick Lafferty was promoted to director of corporate planning from manager of sales strategy and planning.
Underneath Bremer in marketing will be three 'market planners,' similar to General Motors' vehicle line executives, who will oversee product development and equipment, advertising and creative strategies and incentive levels. Bremer will ensure the three groups' strategies interact properly.