Eric Peterson, General Motors’ vice president of U.S. diversity dealer relations, will retire effective Oct. 1, wrapping up a 40-year career with the automaker.
Peterson, 64, joined GM in 1976 in its Buick division and since then held numerous positions that propelled him to the rank of vice president. He is in charge of GM’s minority dealer program and its Women’s Retail Network.
A GM spokesman said a successor has not been announced.
Damon Lester, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers described Peterson as a “champion” and “trailblazer” for diversity.
He said Peterson will be missed and that having Mark Rainey, who was named director of dealer development in May, is a good thing for minority dealers.
But he also said Peterson’s departure means that minority dealers will have to re-introduce themselves to Peterson’s successor and find out that person’s vision for GM’s diversity and minority dealer development efforts going forward.
“Ultimately, we’re going to have to get assurances that the commitment [to diversity and minority dealer development] by GM is still intact,” he said.
Rainey, who was with Nissan for 20 years prior to joining GM, is charged with growing the minority dealer program and the Women’s Retail Network. He reports to Peterson.
Bill Lynch, chairman of the GM Minority Dealer Association and president of the Lynch Auto Group, of Jacksonville, Fla., said Peterson “has been a trailblazer and will be sorely missed. He championed the minority dealers and the Women’s Retail Network.”
Lynch commended GM management and Peterson for leaving dealers in the able hands of Rainey.
GM tapped Peterson to lead GM’s Dealer Development activities in 1998. After holding other titles, including director of industry dealer affairs, he was promoted to vice president in 2010.
Peterson’s departure follows that of GM’s highest-profile African-American executive, former design chief Ed Welburn. Welburn retired July 1.