LOS ANGELES -- The top-ranking public relations, strategic planning and product planning executives for Toyota's U.S. operations will retire within the next two months.
Leaving the company are:
-- Irv Miller, group vice president for environmental and public affairs.
-- Dave Danzer, group vice president of strategic and product planning.
-- Steve Sturm, group vice president of Americas strategic research and planning and corporate communications for Toyota Motor North America in New York.
Toyota did not announce direct replacements for the three executives. Jim Wiseman will take the communications job from Sturm but not the planning and research functions. Wiseman was in charge of public relations at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.
Miller has been Toyota's chief U.S. spokesman since 2001. Before that he spearheaded Toyota's entry into Internet commerce through the company's Office of the Web program. Before moving into PR, he held management positions in field sales, market representation, merchandising and fleet.
Miller, who worked at Chrysler and American Motors before joining Toyota, is a popular, well-known figure throughout the industry. "He knows how to work a room," a Toyota colleague last week. "He can make everybody feel like he's on their side."
The employee said, "Everybody had tears in their eyes when Irv announced his retirement."
Danzer joined Toyota in 1985 as national manager of advertising programs. He also held leadership jobs in advertising, merchandising, marketing and customer relations. Danzer, who has been atop Toyota's product planning since 1999, is known as one of the few true "car guys" in the company, with a garage full of legitimate collector vehicles.
Sturm joined Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. 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.