Hires and Promotions

Former Blue Oval leader joins board of heavy-duty truck parts company

IRVING, Texas - 

Mark Fields remains involved in the automotive industry — in a heavy-duty way, as a matter of fact.

Fields, who retired as president and chief executive officer of Ford last May, recently was appointed to the board of directors of FleetPride, one of the largest independent distributor of aftermarket heavy-duty truck and trailer parts.

Fields certainly carried a heavy load during a 28-year career with the Blue Oval.

During his tenure as chief executive officer, and before that as chief operating officer, Fields oversaw Ford’s fastest global manufacturing expansion in a half-century and its most aggressive schedule of new product introduction ever.

Before that, Fields served as president, The Americas, where he developed “The Way Forward” plan to return the company to profitability. He also served as executive vice president, Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group, as well as president and CEO of Mazda Motor Corp.

“We are very excited to have Mark join FleetPride’s board. He brings a wealth of operating and marketing expertise to our company during a dynamic period of growth,” FleetPride CEO Al Dragone.

Fields recently completed a term as chair of the U.S.-China Business Council, and he currently serves on the IBM board of directors.

AutoGravity names former Fandango exec as VP of product management

IRVINE, Calif. - 

As AutoGravity continues to build its roster of OEM captive clients, the FinTech firm specializing in mobile auto financing availability strengthened its executive team, as well.

The latest personnel announcement included AutoGravity appointing Meesh Pierce as vice president of product management.

“Meesh is a seasoned leader with deep expertise in building industry-changing products. And with her understanding of emerging technologies and agile development, she's the perfect fit for our team,” said Andy Hinrichs, chief executive officer of AutoGravity. “With her track record of driving innovation across industries, Meesh will lead our product team to evolve our platform and help connect AutoGravity with more car buyers across the nation.”

Prior to joining AutoGravity, Pierce served as VP of product management at Fandango. There, she was responsible for planning and managing cross-business platforms, collaborating with business and technical stakeholders, and supporting Fandango's core data, content, customer authentication and global payment systems.

Before her role at Fandango, Pierce spent more than 10 years as a product, strategy and marketing consultant across a variety of industries and brands, including Epson America, Energy & Power Solutions, luxury hospitality and luxury real estate private equity.

“AutoGravity is uniquely positioned to transform the way millions of consumers buy and finance their cars,” Pierce said. “The disruption and sea changes that have begun in the automotive industry mirror the innovation we’ve seen across the energy sector, travel and entertainment industries.

“I'm grateful for the opportunity to bring together consumers, lenders and dealers to realize AutoGravity’s potential to revolutionize the car buying experience through its technical product offerings and impressive team,” she went on to say.

Back in December, AutoGravity selected a new chief technology officer in a move that came before landing relationships with the captives for Audi and Nissan.

ActivEngage brings on new VP of sales

ORLANDO, Fla. - 

ActivEngage announced Tuesday that it has brought aboard Jeff Clark to serve as its new vice president of sales.

Clark is a sales leader with over 20 years of experience leading large automotive industry sales teams, the company said.

"Jeff brings with him an abundance of sales expertise, key connections and invaluable relationship-building skills that we feel are essential to ActivEngage's continued rapid growth," company chief operating officer Ted Rubin said in a news release. "Jeff's appointment to this new position is a milestone for our company. His industry knowledge, level of professionalism and desire to bring true value to his customers, is directly in line with our company values and will help us aggressively move into the future."

Clark most recently served as the chief sales officer of DealerOn, where he oversaw the company's sales operation and strategic partner business development, along with its enterprise accounts and OEM relationships.

Prior to DealerOn, Clark also held senior sales, marketing and management roles at Cars.com, Coca-Cola, Dealer.com and Auto-Bid Systems.

"I'm thrilled to join ActivEngage at a time when the car business is evolving, and dealers need to find new pathways for customers to engage across digital channels," added Clark. "Consumers want to interact with car dealers more effectively and proactively, and that's exactly what live chat, and ActivEngage specifically, brings to the table."

This spring, Clark will be a speaking at the Digital Dealer 24 Conference & Expo in Orlando, according to ActivEngage.

Former Dealertrack exec named Infomedia's IFM Americas president

SYDNEY, Australia - 

Infomedia announced Monday that it has appointed former Dealertrack Technologies executive Sharon Kitzman as president of IFM Americas following Karen Blunden’s departure.

For over a decade, Kitzman most recently served as vice president and general manager of Dealertrack DMS.

In addition to working as an executive and consultant to automotive technology companies, Infomedia said that Kitzman’s background within the automotive and technology communities includes M&A and leadership development.

Before joining Dealertrack, she was senior director marketing and product with Reynolds and Reynolds.

“Sharon’s appointment signifies Infomedia’s commitment to fast-tracking growth in the Americas,” Infomedia chief executive officer Jonathan Rubinsztein said in a news release. “Her relationships, experience and knowledge of the automotive landscape provide an excellent foundation for Infomedia to advance our position in the region. Sharon will oversee our long-term commitment in the Americas of enabling dealerships with intuitive, data-rich technology to transform their workshop productivity and drive customer loyalty.”

In her new role, Infomedia said Kitzman will report to Infomedia chief executive officer Jonathan Rubinsztein.

She has been tasked with driving IFM Americas’ sales strategy, leveraging Infomedia’s existing relationships and identifying new opportunities to support Infomedia’s growth, according to the company.

“More than ever, I believe dealerships are looking for innovative technology to help them retain customers and grow profitability. Trends suggest consumers are hanging on to their cars longer and therefore a quality customer experience during a service repair is critical to automakers and dealerships," added Kitzman. “Infomedia’s unique and integrated approach to technology enables dealerships to remove the business silos of parts and service operations to create workflow efficiencies and exceptional customer experiences.

"I think Infomedia’s technology is a game changer and I look forward to collaborating with automakers and dealerships to deliver customer-focused efficient solutions throughout the Americas and beyond,” Kitzman continued.

CarMax elects 2 new board members


CarMax announced Friday that John Standley has retired, and its board of directors has elected new members Peter Bensen and Robert Hombach, effective April 1.

Standley, chairman and chief executive officer of Rite Aid Corporation, retired from the board this past Monday because of other business demands, the company said.

And Jeff Garten, Yale School of Management Dean Emeritus, who has served on the board since 2002, intends to retire from the board at the company annual meeting on June 26. 

“We are pleased to welcome Pete and Bob to the CarMax board,” CarMax chief executive officer Bill Nash said in a news release. “Their considerable executive leadership and operational experience, as well as their deep financial knowledge, will make them both highly valuable additions to our board.”

Bensen retired from McDonald’s Corp. in 2016 as its chief administrative officer.

During his 20-year tenure beginning in 1996, Bensen held various leadership positions including executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Prior to McDonald’s, Bensen was a senior manager at Ernst & Young LLP.

Hombach is the retired executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief operations officer of Baxalta, a biopharmaceutical company created by parent company Baxter, in 2015.

He joined Baxter in 1989 and served in several roles, including both company chief financial officer and treasurer.

Bensen and Hombach will both serve on the Audit Committee, the company said.

Blue Oval shifts execs at Ford Motor Credit

DEARBORN, Mich. - 

A pair of top-level executive changes unfolded at the Blue Oval this past week.

Ford Motor Credit named Brian Schaaf as chief financial officer and treasurer. Currently, Schaaf is controller of Ford Motor Com. Global Purchasing.

According to a news release, Schaaf will be responsible for Ford Credit financial planning, analysis, accounting and capital strategy.

The automaker also indicated Marion Harris, who has been CFO and treasurer of the OEM’s captive since 2015, has been named vice president of Ford Mobility Business Group.

“I am pleased to have Brian join Ford Credit as we continue our profitable growth, supporting Ford’s automotive and mobility businesses,” said Joy Falotico, Ford Credit chairman and chief executive officer.

“Brian has broad finance, treasury, auditing, international and leadership experience. He will bring a wealth of valuable experience, skills and insights to our team,” Falotico continued.

Prior to becoming Global Purchasing controller, Schaaf was Ford assistant treasurer for seven years. He also served as Ford general auditor and corporate business development director.

In addition, Schaaf held key positions, such as finance director, controller, and various financial analysis and business strategy roles, in Ford automotive operations, including in the United Kingdom.

Schaaf joined Ford in 1989 after working as a mechanical engineer.

Motorlease names Jeffrey Perkins VP of operations


Motorlease Corp. announced that it has promoted Jeffrey Perkins to the position of vice president of operations.

Perkins advanced to leadership roles in the customer service department and dealer relationship management area after joining Motorlease to serve in an administrative capacity in 2002, the company said.

In 2005, he led Motorlease’s purchasing and remarketing efforts and was later promoted to the position of fleet operations general manager at the company in 2015. In that role,  he oversaw the operations of Motorlease’s purchasing, remarketing, insurance, vehicle registration and maintenance departments.

“Jeffrey’s innovative thinking, leadership, and vision make him a natural fit for the position,” said Motorlease chief executive officer Beth Kandrysawtz said in a news release. “We’re extremely proud of what he has accomplished during his tenure thus far, and as we look into the future, there’s no doubt that Jeffrey will be instrumental in enhancing the strategic direction and growth of the company moving forward.”

Along with his current responsibilities, Perkins will be tasked  in his new role with helping to develop tools for future growth as well as focusing on strategic planning, relationship management, and process development and implementation, according to Motorlease.

“Over the past 16 years, I have had the privilege of learning from some of the brightest minds in the fleet management industry,” said Perkins. “As I transition into this new role, those lessons learned will be invaluable as we prepare to take on the challenges of an evolving industry. I look forward to meeting those challenges and helping Motorlease continue to reach new heights in the years to come.”

Cox Automotive names new senior VP in Retail Solutions Group


Cox Automotive announced Tuesday that it has appointed John Griffin to serve as its Retail Solutions Group senior vice president of performance management.

Most recently, Griffin was the vice president of performance management at Cox Automotive. The company said he led vAuto in setting the gold standard for performance management in automotive retail.

In his new role, the company said Griffin will continue to oversee 322 performance managers and work with dealers throughout the country to examine best practices, used-car strategy and process engineering.

His appointment advances Cox Automotive’s proactive approach to performance management across its retail solutions brands: Dealertrack, HomeNet, vAuto, VinSolutions and Xtime.

“Our mission is to be true partners to our clients and invest in their success. John will now be in an ideal position to impart his proactive approach to performance management across our multiple retail brands to help transform the way cars are bought and sold,” said Keith Jezek, president of Cox Automotive’s Retail Solutions Group, in a news release.

Griffin’s experience includes executive management and performance management positions at dealer groups across the country.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the automotive industry; it’s never been more critical to find the real truth in the reams of numbers, metrics and reports dealers receive,” said Griffin. “My vision is that our work in the performance management space makes all our brands better partners to dealerships and in turn, helps dealers better satisfy their customers and grow their businesses.”

AutoAlert appoints Jim Benintende COO


AutoAlert announced Thursday that long-time Ford Motor Co. executive Jim Benintende has joined the company to serve as its chief operating officer.

At Ford, Benintende oversaw a business unit made up of 67 countries and 3,800 employees as the first president of its Middle East and Africa (MEA) business unit, which he led from 2013 until August of 2016. During that time, Ford's Ranger truck production increased by 46 percent, and exports of the vehicle expanded to 150 countries, according to AutoAlert.

"AutoAlert is fortunate that Jim has joined the team," AutoAlert chief executive officer Mike Dullea said in a news release. "His strategic experience will help guide us as we continue to grow relationships with our current customers, and his experience overseas will help propel our rapid growth in international markets."

Benintende most recently returned to the United States as Ford's Director of Sales Support before retiring from Ford in December of 2016.

He began at Ford as an assembly line worker at the age of 20. And later transitioned into a variety of marketing and sales positions before being promoted to sales manager of export operations of Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 1993. Additionally, he became managing director of Ford Middle East and North Africa in 2002.

"I'm excited to join the AutoAlert team. Its track record of finding a better way to do business, for both dealerships and OEMs, is proven," said Benintende. "My background will hopefully expand the reach of its already successful suite of products and services and continue to bolster its loyal customer base."

LotLinx names chief operating officer


LotLinx announced Wednesday that Gee Leung has joined the company as chief operating officer.

Within a career spanning two decades, Leung has been a trusted advisor to several digital media and technology companies, according to LotLinx.

The company said Leung’s experience includes working with some of the largest global technology leaders and he brings a view of best practices from across a wide range of companies.

“We are extremely pleased to add Gee’s caliber of experience to the team,” LotLinx founder Len Short said in a news release announcing Leung’s hire. “I’ve known Gee a long time and he has an unparalleled insight into what drives success for technology companies. I am confident his energy and dynamic background will resonate with our customers, and our team will greatly benefit from his skillset and unique perspective.”

Leung most recently served as partner at AGC Partners before taking on his new role.

Prior to AGC, Leung held senior banking positions at both MESA Global and Montgomery & Co., according to LotLinx.

“I have been covering the automotive digital marketing sector for years and have always admired LotLinx for its innovation and dedication to the dealer,” added Leung.

“Len and the team have built something special, creating a platform that’s truly revolutionizing the way dealers and OEMs conduct digital marketing. I’m excited to bring my expertise and background to LotLinx, and look forward to helping our customers and partners succeed.”

Additionally, early in his career, Leung was a technology M&A banker at Friedman Billings as well as part of the technology investment banking team at Citigroup.