Mark LaNeve Steps Down from GM's U.S. Sales Chief
In a conference call with the press this morning, GM CEO Fritz Henderson announced that U.S. sales chief Mark LaNeve will resign his position at GM effective Oct. 15. A replacement has not yet been named, but could come from outside the company.
"Mark's going to join another company to pursue an interest outside the auto industry," Henderson told reporters. "We are open to bringing in outside talent. We are working with Washington to finalize how we pay people and our compensation packages. Prior to bringing in people from the outside, we need to be able to explain how we pay people."
While the company works on its pay structure and searches for a replacement for LaNeve, it will also work on changes to its sales division, though Henderson didn't say exactly what those changes will be. Until a replacement is named, Jim Bunnell, GM's executive director of sales operations, will oversee the dealer consolidation plans LaNeve was working on.
"We need to move on the sales job, and we'll consider all our options," Henderson said. "I do think there's a benefit to us bringing in people from the outside in all areas of our company."
While LaNeve is generally credited with helping to revitalize the Cadillac brand when he returned to GM in 2001 after a four-year stint at Volvo, he has more recently presided over a sales drop of 36% during the first nine months of 2009, compared to a 27% average drop across the industry.
LaNeve started at GM in the early 1980s as a brand manager for the Pontiac Bonneville and later held positions at Cadillac into the mid-1990s. After leaving to become vice president and later CEO of Volvo America in 1997, LaNeve returned to GM to head up the Cadillac brand in 2001. In 2004, he would be promoted to vice president in charge of marketing and advertising for North America and promoted again to vice president of vehicle sales, service and marketing in 2005. In July of this year, following GM's emergence from bankruptcy protection, Bob Lutz took over as head of marketing while LaNeve assumed the title of Vice President of Sales for North America. His future plans following his Oct. 15 departure from GM are unknown at this time.
Source: GM, Automotive News (Subscription required)