General Motors has replaced its Chevrolet brand manager after just five months and its Buick brand chief is leaving after only a few days on the job, as the company continues to shake up its top management ranks.
GM said Wednesday that James Campbell will now lead Chevrolet, the company's largest and most important brand. Campbell replaces Brent Dewar, who will retire April 1 to spend more time with family and pursue personal interests.
In addition, GM said Michael Richards, who was named Buick and GMC general manager on Dec. 1, is leaving to pursue other career opportunities. That's the same day that the GM board forced the resignation of former CEO Fritz Henderson.
The announcement comes after GM abruptly canceled a Web chat scheduled for Wednesday with Richards.
Dewar, Chevrolet's global vice president, was named to the post in July by Henderson, who himself was replaced on an interim basis by CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre Jr.
Campbell, 45, joined GM in 1988 and was previously in charge of the automaker's fleet and commercial vehicle operations. He also has been involved with launches of Chevrolet Impala, Monte Carlo, Colorado and Corvette models.
"Jim has a strong track record of building relationships and partnerships with dealers and customers, and deep Chevrolet experience," said Susan Docherty, GM's vice president of sales, service and marketing, in a statement.
"His energy, drive for results and willingness to take risks are great assets for leading the growing global Chevrolet brand."
Dewar will work with Campbell to ensure a smooth transition at Chevrolet and also will be on a special assignment supporting Mark Reuss in his new role as president of GM's North America operations, the company said.
"During his 31 years with GM, Brent made a difference in multiple assignments, including key roles in Brazil and Europe, launching the award-winning American Revolution campaign and applying his environmental passion to drive the very successful gas-friendly to gas-free marketing strategy," Docherty said. "He will be missed."
Richards, 52, replaced Docherty, who was promoted to her sales and marketing position. Richards was vice president of marketing and sales for the automotive business at Austin, Texas-based Trilogy. Before that, he worked as a consultant at J.D. Power and Associates and in sales and marketing posts at Ford Motor Co.
Dewar's move is "a little surprising," said Aaron Bragman, research analyst for IHS Global Insight's automotive marketing group, in a phone interview. But he noted that Dewar represented "old guard GM," and that Whitacre has made it clear he wants his own people in charge.
GM said Tuesday it is close to replacing its chief financial officer after finding an unidentified candidate to take his job. It was the first time the automaker has publicly acknowledged that the board plans to replace current CFO Ray Young. An announcement is likely in two to three weeks.
Young would be the second top executive, after CEO Fritz Henderson, to be replaced by Whitacre and the new government-appointed board, which took over control of the troubled automaker as it emerged from bankruptcy protection in July.
The company announced a number of promotions last week which elevated younger members of its executive team, including Reuss, 46, and Docherty, 47. In recent interviews, Whitacre has implied that newly appointed executives have little time to make changes, and must show results quickly.
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