People work hard in the auto industry, and many of them play hard, too. Here's how some of them unwound during their time away from the office in 2000.
WETTER IS BETTER
Sue Unger juggles global responsibilities as senior vice president and chief information officer for DaimlerChrysler AG. So she spent a lot of time in airplanes last year. When she had something to celebrate, however, she preferred boats. For son Michael's 12th birthday in April, Unger, 50, and her family cruised the Hudson River in New York City. In August she hosted a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband, Tim, on a 100-foot 1920s-era vessel that sails the Detroit River. Her daughter, Lisa, turns 21 this year. What seafaring adventure might be in store for her?
A WHALE OF A BIRTHDAY
Neil De Koker, managing director of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association in Troy, Mich., had no shortage of excitement in 2000. He enjoyed an 11-day tour this fall through Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. But the trip, a 35th anniversary present to him and his wife, Karen, from their three sons, wasn't the highlight of his year. That came Sept. 9 when his son, Scott, was married in Grand Rapids on De Koker's 57th birthday. A reception for 255 people, at the Van Andel Mu-seum, made for 'the biggest and best birthday party I ever had,' he said. Among the highlights: rides for everyone on a 1913 carousel and celebrations underneath a 60-foot whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling.
The highlight of the year for Saturn Corp. Chairman Cynthia Trudell, 47, was putting on her college mom hat and spending the weekend on campus with her son, Mark, a sophomore at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. Mark and his pals gave Mom the full party weekend. In addition to staying up way too late arguing politics and world economics, Madam Chairman partied at a local pub that had a wicked Irish band. 'I got to relive my college days,' Trudell says. 'I'm doing it again next year.'
When he wasn't minding the legal, government and HR fronts for Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc. last year, Senior Vice President Dennis Cuneo finished a new 20-by-24-foot room at his suburban Cincinnati home. Its function: to house Cuneo's ever-expanding Lionel train collection. Thanks to Cuneo's recent mastery of the Internet, the collection is up to hundreds of pieces. To add a touch of nostalgia to his railroad decor, Cuneo, 50, has recreated in toy-train scale the look of Ridgway, Pa., the small western Pennsylvania town where he grew up. His trains race past steel mills, bridges and stores modeled after those in his hometown. For extra effect, he painted clouds and other scenery on the walls.
RUNNING FOR A CAUSE
For Greg Janicki, doing good comes with doing well. The 36-year-old auto industry consultant and runner was training last summer for his first marathon since college. During a conversation about his plans to mentor a Michigan foundation's leadership program for urban teens, it dawned on him that he could use the marathon to help fund the Art of Leadership Foundation. But that meant Janicki, vice president of CSM Worldwide of Northville, Mich., would need to do well enough to collect on the financial pledges he solicited. The pressure was on: He had not run a marathon since his final year at Michigan State University 14 years before. Long miles and long weeks readied him for the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Bank International Marathon in October. His time: 3: 50. His reward: $1,400 in pledges and the fun of boosting a cause he believes in.
Toyota Motor Co. employee Ryoko Tamura won her first Olympic gold medal in the 48kg-class of judo in Sydney. Tamura, 25, won the gold just 38 seconds into the final against North Korean Cha Hyon Hyang. Tamura, a four-time world champion, had had to settle for silver at the Atlanta and Barcelona Olympics. This time she was one of Japan's four judo gold medalists.
TOAST OF THE ANDES
Maryann Keller, former analyst and dot-com executive and now an automotive consultant, sipped champagne and ate chocolates while gazing at the most beautiful scenery she had ever seen. On a cruise, perhaps? Or, maybe, on a plane? Not exactly. Wearing spikes on her feet, Keller, 57, had hiked through the Andes Mountains to the Perito Mareno Glacier in Argentina and stopped for a celebration in an icy blue cave.
SWIMMING WITH SEAHORSES
Doug Wilson and his wife, Janet, with 11 other Siemens Automotive employees and their friends and families, have been going on annual scuba diving excursions for 10 years. This year the Siemens scuba crew took a one-week diving trip in March to Bonaire, an island near Venezuela. During the dive in the Atlantic Ocean, Wilson, a 59-year-old sales account manager for Siemens' DaimlerChrysler group in Auburn Hills, Mich., saw seahorses, giant groupers and moray eels. The best part of the dive, according to Wilson: 'The seahorses. I've never seen them before, and the moray eels were larger than 6 or 8 feet.' The scuba crew includes engineering, sales, and manufacturing and quality personnel from Auburn Hills, Mich.; Atlanta, and Canada. In June 1995, they were featured on the CBS TV show '48 Hours.'
Vic Doolan, 60, capped off the year at his daughter's wedding in New York's Central Park. Doolan, executive director for North American marketing and distribution strategy for Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group, spent the holidays in Virginia hitting a spa and visiting his family before returning to the warmer climate of Southern California.
Joe Scimone, 44, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Chase Manhattan Auto Finance Corp., has more fun than most bankers. Last summer, he slammed through Long Island Sound in his 38-foot cigarette boat, which is named 'Unauthorized.' It has a top speed of more than 80 mph, Scimone said. He said the boat burns $500 to $600 worth of gas every weekend 'when you run it hard, which I do. If you don't use the throttle, it isn't any fun.'
STICKING WITH IT
Shinichi Goto is not the first to say running a marathon is fun. But Goto, a top executive in the Washington offices of Toyota Motor North America Inc., may have more credibility than others. He keeps on competing in the torturous 26.2-mile races. Goto's eighth such adventure was the New York City Marathon Nov. 5. 'Most parts I enjoyed very much, but the last two miles, it was a mixture of pain and enjoyment,' said Goto, 49. He is Toyota vice president for external affairs. His time in the 2000 race was 3: 58: 30, his best in five New York marathons.
It has been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. And that is certainly true of Harold Wells, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. Wells, president of Wells Automotive in Whiteville, N.C., loves junk shops. Specifically, he looks for old nautical equipment to decorate his house on Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina. He was elated this year to discover an old deadbolt lock that had been used on a ship. Wells said the old lock makes an ideal latch for the gate to his yard.
WEDDED BLISS ON WHEELS
Bicycling through southern Spain is no doubt fun anytime. But a Spanish pedaling trip last year was extra special for Janet Mullins Grissom because it was also her honeymoon. 'It was fun,' said Grissom, Ford Motor Co.'s vice president for Washington affairs - except for some of the terrain. 'The hills were so big I wasn't sure our Ford Explorer would get up them, let alone me on a bike,' she said. Her wedding, a small family event, to Tom Grissom, a longtime friend from their home state of Kentucky, was on May 27. She postponed the honeymoon until October because she figured Congress surely would be adjourned by then. 'Ho, ho, ho,' she quipped sarcastically. Lawmakers not only stayed in session through October but even came back in November and December.