DETROIT - Chrysler chose a new general manager of Dodge Division during the launch of two critical products.
James Julow, 45, Chrysler's executive director of corporate marketing, will replace Raymond Fisher on May 1 as head of Dodge.
Fisher has been general manager of Chrysler's largest division since August 1996.
The leadership change comes during the launch of the redesigned Intrepid sedan and the all-new Durango sport-utility. Durango sales are brisk, but first-quarter Intrepid sales are sluggish compared to a year earlier.
NO GOOD TIME
The timing of the change is irrelevant, said James Holden, Chrysler's executive vice president of sales and marketing.
'As often as we launch products around here, I don't know when I'd find a window when it wasn't inconvenient,' Holden said.
Fisher, 45, will become general manager of sales and service, reporting to John MacDonald, vice president of sales and service.
'While somebody needs to be the focal point, no division - or department, for that matter - is going to be wildly successful as the result of the work of one person,' Holden said.
'Jim (Julow's) challenge is to not have them miss a beat and then take them yet to another level,' Holden said. 'I think with his product background, that's exactly what he will do.'
Julow has a history of top marketing and advertising positions at Chrysler and the former American Motors.
He came to Chrysler in 1987 when Chrysler bought AMC. He also gained product-planning experience at AMC, having served as chairman of the Jeep Cherokee launch task force in late 1982.
Julow will report to Bud Liebler, vice president of marketing.
'We've put him on a lot of difficult assignments over the years,' Holden said. Julow helped Holden devise the automaker's Project 2000 strategy to consolidate Chrysler-Plymouth and Jeep-Eagle dealers into one division, Holden said.
Julow also was a key player in developing and implementing the Pentacom strategy, 'which led the way in the industry in terms of consolidating media buying, getting the efficiencies we needed there,' Holden said. Pentacom is Chrysler's dedicated media planning and buying arm.
VOICE OF MARKETING
Holden said he was satisfied with Fisher's performance at Dodge.
'Tenure has nothing to do with it, nothing to do with it at all,' Holden said. 'What Ray will bring to sales now is the voice of marketing.'
Chrysler also made several other moves in sales and service:
Thomas Marinelli was appointed general manager of fleet operations, reporting to MacDonald. He previously was general sales and service manager. Marinelli succeeds William Glaub, who was named president and CEO of Chrysler Canada (see story at right).
Gary Dilts was appointed executive director of retail strategies and dealer relations, reporting to MacDonald for dealer relations matters and to Holden for retail strategy matters. Dilts previously was director of dealer relations.
Joseph Casola was appointed executive director of marketing and corporate merchandising operations, reporting to Liebler. Casola was previously general sales and service manager.