TOKYO -- After Japan's devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Takashi Yamanouchi needed someone to sort out and reinforce the carmaker's shattered supply chain and production system. He chose Masamichi Kogai, a manufacturing and purchasing specialist.
Now, Kogai, 58, is getting a new assignment: Run the whole company.
Pending approval at the Japanese company's June 25 annual shareholders' meeting, Kogai will become CEO of Mazda. He takes the reins just after Mazda posted its first annual profit in five years.
Yamanouchi, 68, will remain chairman.
Kogai has led the company's crucial makeover toward more cost-efficient manufacturing. The overhaul was key to making export-dependent Mazda profitable despite unfavorable exchange rates.
After years of revamping domestic assembly lines, partly to streamline manufacturing for the company's new line of Skyactiv engines, transmissions and chassis technologies, Mazda says it is now able to be profitable with the yen at 75 to the dollar. The current rate is about 99, which is far more favorable to exporters such as Mazda.
As assistant to the previous production chief, Seita Kanai, Kogai played a big role in remaking Mazda as a leaner carmaker. Kanai, who previously was in charge of global r&d and helped spearhead the Skyactiv push, also will be a vice chairman.
Kogai joined Mazda in 1977 and has spent much of his career in r&d, logistics, cost improvement and information technology. He has been head of production and purchasing since 2011.
In 2006, he was posted overseas as president of AutoAlliance Thailand Co., a manufacturing joint venture with Ford Motor Co.