LOS ANGELES -- The top-ranking strategic planning, product planning and public relations executives within Toyota's U.S. operations will retire within the next two months.
Although Toyota is known for having a deep bench, the losses of Steve Sturm, Dave Danzer and Irv Miller come at a time when Toyota seeks to rebound from the industry's tough 2009, as well as to rebuild its declining public opinion following a barrage of unintended-acceleration complaints. Toyota did not announce replacements for the three executives.
Steve Sturm will retire as group vice president of Americas strategic research and planning and corporate communications for Toyota Motor North America in New York. Sturm joined Toyota Motor Sales in 1981 and held management and executive positions in product development, pricing, logistics, sales planning, distribution and corporate planning. He was "on loan" to Toyota's U.S. holding company in 2007.
Dave Danzer, group vice president of strategic and product planning, joined Toyota in 1985 as national manager of advertising programs. Danzer also held leadership jobs in advertising, merchandising, marketing and customer relations. Atop Toyota's product planning since 1999, Danzer is known as one of the few true "car guys" in Toyota, with a garageful of legitimate collector vehicles.
Irv Miller, group vice president for environmental and public affairs, has been Toyota's U.S. mouthpiece since 2001. Prior to that, he held management positions in field sales, market representation, merchandising and fleet. Prior to taking his current position in PR, Miller spearheaded Toyota's entry into Internet commerce through Toyota's "Office of the Web" program.
Although Toyota declined to give the executives' ages, a spokeswoman said that all three were "of retirement age," likely to mean in their late 50s.