LOS ANGELES -- American Suzuki has realigned its executive staff to put more emphasis on automotive operations.
For the first time, the company has separated its automotive and motorcycle units. It named Koichi Suzuki, 40, president of automotive operations, a new position.
The company also hired GM veteran Ron Sobrero to fill the new position of vice president of dealer development, and added several positions to its regional field staff.
Koichi Suzuki, who is no relation to company President Rick Suzuki, had been Rick Suzuki's chief assistant since 1999. His chief duty was to be the interface between the U.S. company and the parent company in Japan.
Rick Suzuki, 56, grandson of the founder of Suzuki Motor Corp., has been named president of corporate operations. He will oversee both the automotive and motorcycle divisions.
Mac Kato, an assistant to Rick Suzuki on the motorcycle side for two years, has been named president of motorcycle and marine operations.
Koichi Suzuki will head all automotive operations, including sales, service and marketing. He assumes most of the responsibilities held by Gary Anderson, who had been vice president of sales. Anderson takes on the role of vice president of industry relations and external affairs, also a new position.
Koichi Suzuki's two top lieutenants will be Chris White, field operations sales manager, and John Dunn, field operations service and parts manager, two new positions.
White had been manager of dealer development for the company, and Dunn was West Coast service manager.
Taking over much of Koichi Suzuki's previous work is Yutaka Suzuki, also no relation to the Suzuki family. Yutaka Suzuki worked in government relations in Japan. His new position here is executive director of business planning.
"We're doing this to give more support to automotive and the dealers," Koichi Suzuki said. "We need to create credibility for Suzuki in the United States, and my job is to implement the plan to do that."
Suzuki sold 58,438 vehicles last year, down 13.9 percent, or 9,417 units, from 2002.