In Tom Doll's 36 years with Subaru of America, he has seen the automaker inch into the awareness of American consumers, enjoy an early spate of success, stumble backward with challenges, regroup and change direction, and finally soar to nine consecutive years of record-setting sales results.
Last week, the company's Japanese parent rewarded him by making him the U.S. subsidiary's first American CEO since 1990.
Doll will become Subaru Corp.'s senior-most executive in North America, while its current U.S. CEO, Tomomi Nakamura, will be promoted to president of the parent company, for which he will return to Japan.
Nakamura will assume part of the duties of Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, currently president and CEO. Yoshinaga will remain CEO of the parent company, but also step up as chairman.
Doll is recognized as the chief architect of Subaru's good fortune in the U.S. market, the automaker's biggest market.
He has witnessed and weathered good times and tough times since joining Subaru in 1982 as an accountant from Arthur Young in Philadelphia.
Subaru battled weak sales and bloated inventories in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Complicating its challenge was the opening of a large U.S. vehicle assembly plant in Indiana as a joint venture with Isuzu, which saddled Subaru with excess capacity. Isuzu subsequently dropped out of the U.S. passenger car market, leaving Subaru to sort out the factory investment on its own.
Subaru's emergence as a more formidable U.S. contender began in 1995 when it decided to make its entire product portfolio all-wheel-drive and put more emphasis on crossovers.
Subaru's U.S. sales totaled 647,956 units last year, compared with 424,683 vehicles in 2013, the year Doll became president. The automaker is riding a streak of 75 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases.
The promotion makes Doll the first American CEO at the U.S. company since Fuji Heavy Industries, now known as Subaru Corp., acquired full ownership of it in 1990.
The last American CEO was Harvey Lamm. Lamm and Malcolm Bricklin launched the company in suburban Philadelphia in 1968 as an importer and marketer of Subaru cars.
The changes will be official after the annual shareholders and board of directors meetings in June.