Esmond: Will oversee Toyota, Lexus divisions
Lentz: Named Toyota Division general manager
The change is part of a reshuffling of the executive ranks at the U.S. operation.
Denny Clements, 60, general manager of Lexus Division, is retiring. He will be replaced by Bob Carter, previously vice president of sales for Toyota Division.
Esmond, 61, also takes command of Toyota's Mexican and Puerto Rican operations, Toyota Logistics Services and Toyota's Central Atlantic distributorship. Esmond, a 23-year Toyota veteran, had been in charge of Toyota Division since 1998.
"This lets me make decisions at 15,000 feet, not 5,000 feet," Esmond said in an interview at the New York auto show. "I will be better able to prioritize Toyota's resources."
Esmond's to-do list includes improving both brands' direct marketing and event marketing efforts and finding more efficiencies in distribution, especially for Lexus.
Taking Esmond's place at Toyota Division will be fast-tracker Jim Lentz.
Lentz, 49, has been group vice president of marketing for Toyota since late 2002. Before that he was the vice president of the Scion youth brand at its inception. Lentz has been with Toyota for 23 years.
Jim Press, COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., will keep his title. But with Esmond's expanded duties, Press will concentrate more on his role as a managing officer of Toyota Motor Corp. in Japan.
Press will be more involved in Toyota's global strategic issues and how the American market fits into them. The now-global reach of the Lexus brand will be a key issue.
Press already spends two weeks a month in Japan.
While Press still will be closely involved in North American strategy, he will leave implementation to Esmond and his lieutenants.
"Since Jim became a managing officer, the organization has evolved," Esmond said. "What we need (in America) in terms of product or production or technology - Jim has the ear of the other directors in Japan."
Since Clements assumed leadership of Lexus in 2000, every year has been marked by record sales. The marque also has been the best-selling luxury brand in the United States every year during that time.
New Lexus chief Carter, 45, has been with Toyota Motor for 24 years. He has Lexus experience; he was vice president of sales and dealer development before assuming his current post.
Clements officially retires on June 1, but Carter's promotion takes effect immediately. Clements will stay on as a consultant.
You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at [email protected]