BRUSSELS - Earl Hesterberg, who moved from Nissan in the USA to head the company's sales and marketing in Europe in 1996, will return to the USA to run an independent Toyota distributor.
Hesterberg, 45, will be replaced as vice president for sales at Nissan Europe NV by an executive he hired away from Ford: Hartmut Kieven, 52, currently president of Nissan Motor Deutschland GmbH in Germany.
Kieven joined Nissan in February after 33 years with Ford. His appointment completed a restructuring of Nissan-owned national sales and distribution companies led by Hesterberg.
Hesterberg, the first American executive to be transferred from Nissan's US operations to Europe, will become president of Gulf States Toyota Inc., a Houston-based independent distributor serving 140 dealers in five US states.
Before he arrived in Europe in September, 1996, Nissan's European sales companies operated independently and rarely coordinated marketing campaigns. Hesterberg implemented a strategy to link the programs. He also replaced the seven Japanese presidents of Nissan-owned sales arms in European countries with local nationals.
Kieven will be replaced in Germany by Ralf-Toni Pulm, currently general manager of product and marketing communications at Nissan Europe. Pulm, 52, joined Nissan in March after 32 years with Ford in Europe, including sales and marketing jobs in Germany and Denmark. He was managing director of Ford Austria from 1993 to 1997.
Nissan also named Peter Hill head of purchasing for Europe, a new post.
Hill will continue in his current job as purchasing director for Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK. In his new assignment, Hill will integrate purchasing at Nissan's plants in Spain and the UK.
Keith Jones, currently director of quality assurance at both Nissan car assembly plants, has been promoted to the new job of general manager for quality assurance in Europe.