In an industry where change often occurs overnight, Jay Amestoy has been a rock of stability for Mazda North America. But after 22 years – making him not only the Japanese maker’s longest-serving executive but also the longest-serving public relations chief in the industry – Amestoy is stepping down.
The California native will formally retire on January 1 – though he won’t entirely abandon his ties to Mazda and will continue to work as a consultant to the maker’s president and CEO Jim O’Sullivan, with an ongoing role in Mazda’s ambitious motorsports program.
“Mazda has been honored to have Jay Amestoy at the helm of our public relations and motorsports efforts for more than two decades,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president & CEO, MNAO. “Jay has not only been an advocate for the Mazda brand, but has been instrumental in building it up to what it stands for today. We congratulate him on what has been, and will continue to be, a wonderful career.”
Amestoy’s duties will be split, going forward, with Jeremy Barnes handling public relations and brand experience. John Doonan will serve as director of motorsports.
A self-avowed “gearhead,” Amestoy was a strong proponent of the idea that little Mazda could build a big reputation by putting a serious emphasis on racing. Indeed, it will field a new diesel race car during the upcoming Sebring endurance race as a way to help promote its new Mazda6, the first Japanese car in decades to offer a diesel option.
Amestoy joined Mazda nearly 22 years ago after a previous career with Volkswagen of America. The switch allowed him to move back to California where his family originally settled 100s of years earlier. Amestoy suffered serious health issues several years earlier but recovered and remained with the maker while training his successor and putting in place a PR team that could maintain stability after his departure.
He has served with Mazda during an extensive period of change that included the era when the maker came under the control of its long-time American alliance partner, Ford Motor Co. Ford has largely sold off its stake and no longer directly influences day-to-day operations at Mazda headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan.