Mazda shifts execs to the regions

Mazda Motor of America hopes the elimination of four layers of management and the shift of top executives to its regions will mean better service for consumers.
The key to the company’s recent reorganization is a new regional autonomy. The regions have been given the power to make decisions about marketing, sales, service, parts and vehicle distribution, and regional managers answer directly to the president–leaving only three layers between Mazda dealers and president Sonny Sonoguchi. In giving Sonoguchi this responsibility over sales, Mazda has created a straight line between the U.S. sales arm and the company’s management in Japan.
“How we treat the dealer is likely how the dealer is going to treat the customer,” said Clark Vitulli, executive vice president. “If we can get decisions to dealers faster, responding faster to what they want in the way of product and information, it will allow them to respond faster to what the customer wants.”
Vitulli’s duties as chief operating officer, now divided with Sonoguchi’s, was one of the layers eliminated. Key executives shifted to oversee the regions include Jan Thompson, now vp of sales operations, who will have duties in sales, product distribution, incentives planning and dealer development.
The national image campaign will remain intact, Vitulli said, but additional money will be poured into regional ad campaigns with a “local flair” and locally sponsored promotional events. One agency, Foote, Cone & Belding, will create both national and regional campaigns.
“There aren’t going to be four Mazdas when you wake up tomorrow,” he said. “But what motivates buyers to act in Brooklyn may differ to what sells in San Diego.”
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