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Management Shake-Up at Toyota Increases Role of U.S. Execs

Lentz running North American ops; former GM exec Hogan joins Toyota board.

by on Mar.06, 2013

From sales to manufacturing, Toyota's Jim Lentz will now run all operations in the Americas.

In an unexpected announcement, Toyota has announced a major shake-up in its global management structure that will significantly increase the role of the North American market – and senior U.S. executives, in particular.

The realignment positions Jim Lentz, who has been the top American executive at the giant Japanese maker, as its number one boss for all of North America. Meanwhile, the current U.S. head of the Lexus luxury brand will now become managing officer for Lexus International. And Mark Hogan, a former General Motors senior executive, will become the first American ever on the 76-year-old Toyota Motor Co.’s board of directors.

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“These changes will help us to achieve sustainable growth and realize our global vision by giving more responsibility to each region, including our North and South American operations, so that they may develop and deliver even better products and offer the best service to our customers,” declared Akio Toyoda, TMC’s global chief executive and grandson of the maker’s founder.


Toyota VP “Invites” UAW To Organize Plants

Executive claims the choice is up to plant workers. Really?

by on Aug.06, 2010

Try if you'd like, Toyota VP Steve St. Angelo tells the UAW.

The United Auto Workers Union is welcome to try to organize Toyota’s U.S. assembly and component plants, a senior corporate executive said – if the UAW can convince those workers there’d be a benefit to the deal.

Steve St. Angelo, Toyota’s North American chief quality officer, reminded reporters after his presentation at the Management Briefing Seminars, in Traverse City, Michigan that the UAW has tried to organize its plants before but has so far been unsuccessful.

“It’s up to the team members,” St. Angelo said, as a top executive of the Japanese company that just shut its only UAW plant in California, its largest U.S. market.

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Earlier in the conference new UAW President Bob King called on all automakers to follow a set of principles aimed at giving workers the freedom to choose a union. King said that his goal was to work as partners with the automakers and promised that if they agreed to work with the UAW, they would become stronger for it. But the new autoworkers chief added that the union would use every resource available to it to fight any automaker that denied workers’ rights.


Toyota Quality Chief: “A Trying Few Months”

Automaker insists it still can’t find vehicle electronics problem.

by on Aug.06, 2010

Toyota's quality czar has had some "trying" times.

For most of his presentation, Steve St. Angelo stood stoicly behind the podium, stiffly reading the teleprompter with the expected explanation for Toyota’s difficult year, rarely making eye contact with the audience.

Then, the chief quality officer and executive vice president for the embattled Japanese automaker stepped out onto the platform at the Management Briefing Seminars, in Traverse City, and suddenly started speaking directly from the heart about the trials Toyota experienced earlier this year.

“Obviously, it has been a trying few months,” St. Angelo said, suddenly animated.

Few would dispute that considering the challenges that have landed on the back of a company that once seemed to do no wrong.

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Since announcing its first recall for unintended acceleration, last October, Toyota has more than 9 million cars to the callback list for a wide range of problems, everything from sticky accelerators to excess corrosion and leaky fuel tanks.  It has paid a record, $16.4 million fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for failing to reveal defects in a timely manner.  Its leaders have been caustically grilled by Congress.  Its products have plunged on the quality charts.  And it is facing potential criminal charges from two grand juries.