Ken Saito Takes Over Suzuki in the U.S.
By Brendan Moore
Ken Saito, formerly deputy executive general manager of global marketing for Suzuki Motor Corporation, will now run American Suzuki Motor Corp. He replaces Rick Suzuki, 60, grandson of Suzuki founder Michio Suzuki. Mr Suzuki, who ran the U.S. operation for the past decade will now be a board member.
Saito will be in charge of all of Suzuki in the U.S., including the marine, motorcycle/ATV and auto divisions. Saito is considered to be a bit of a miracle worker at Suzuki, having spent quite a bit of time in Suzuki’s India unit, where he led the tremendous growth for Suzuki there that gave them the No. 1 ranking they still enjoy today.
Mr. Saito commented, “I am very excited about the opportunity to help lead Suzuki’s efforts in the United States. American buying habits are changing and Suzuki is very well positioned for success in the U.S. thanks to our diversity of outstanding products, including many which we plan to launch very soon. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues and fellow employees in continuing to make Suzuki a great success in the United States.”
As far as the U.S. market goes, Suzuki is now expected to do a lot more of what they do best – small cars. The recent run-up in the price of gasoline seems to be tailor-made for a company like Suzuki.
The official press release follows:
PRESS RELEASE: American Suzuki Consolidates Its Business Divisions, Naming Mr. Kinji Saito as New President to Oversee All U.S. Operations
Auto, Motorcycle/ATVs and Marine Divisions, along with Corporate Operations, Will now be consolidated to optimize Suzuki’s success in the United States
BREA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–American Suzuki Motor Corporation (American Suzuki), continually seeking to optimize its business in response to ever-changing consumer preferences and market conditions, announced today that it will consolidate its independent business units – Automotive, Motorcycle/ATV and Marine, along with Corporate Operations – under a new President, Mr. Kinji Saito. All of the changes are focused on internal restructuring and do not affect the separate dealer bodies that support each of the company’s product divisions.
Mr. Saito, who most recently served as Deputy Executive General Manager, Global Marketing at Suzuki Motor Corporation in Japan, will oversee all of the operations, sales and marketing activities of American Suzuki. Mr. Rick Suzuki, who has served as Chairman of American Suzuki, will become its Board Advisor. Mr. Mark Harano, currently President of the Automotive Operations; Mr. Masaaki Kato, President of the Motorcycle, ATV and Marine Operations, and Mr. Motoo Murakami, President of Corporate Operations, will now become Executive Vice Presidents of the consolidated company and continue to oversee their respective operations.
“American Suzuki believes it is very important to make changes and respond to the evolving needs of American consumers,” said Mr. Saito. “It is ideal for all of our divisions to work more closely together, plan together and communicate together as a single company, rather than as separate business units. This reorganization reflects our strong commitment to the United States marketplace, and we are very optimistic about the many opportunities that our new corporate structure will provide in promoting collaboration, leveraging our innovative brand spirit across all products, supporting our dealers, and continually improving Suzuki’s entire product lineup in the United States.”
Mr. Saito brings to the U.S. operations significant experience and an impressive track record of success. In 1999, he was named Suzuki’s representative to India, and in 2002 became Director, Marketing & Sales of Maruti Suzuki India. During his tenure, Suzuki was India’s leading and most dominant automotive company, with a passenger car market share that today exceeds 50 percent. American Suzuki is looking toward this strong new leader to navigate the company to success in these tough U.S. economic situations.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to help lead Suzuki’s efforts in the United States,” said Mr. Saito. “American buying habits are changing and Suzuki is very well positioned for success in the U.S. thanks to our diversity of outstanding products, including many which we plan to launch very soon. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues and fellow employees in continuing to make Suzuki a great success in the United States.”
The Brea, Calif.-based Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corporation (ASMC) was founded in 1963 by parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) and currently markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of approximately 500 automotive dealerships and numerous other motorcycle, ATV and marine distributors in 49 states. With global headquarters in Hamamatsu, Japan, SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle, and outboard motor manufacturer. In 2007, SMC sold more than two million new cars and trucks and more than three million motorcycles and ATVs. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has operations in 193 countries and regions. For more information, visit www.media.suzuki.com.
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