American Honda’s Conrad announces retirement

on Sep9

Jeff Conrad introduces the redesigned 2018 Honda Accord in Detroit on July 14. Photo credit: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES — Jeff Conrad, an industry lifer and 35-year veteran at American Honda, is retiring as senior vice president of the company’s automobile division on Dec. 1.

Conrad, 65, will be replaced by Henio Arcangeli Jr., who most recently was president of Yanmar North America, a heavy-equipment manufacturer. Arcangeli joins American Honda immediately in the senior vice president role and will take over Conrad’s additional duties as general manager of the Honda brand on Dec. 1.

The move comes just five months after John Mendel, himself a Honda lifer, stepped down as executive vice president of American Honda’s auto division. Conrad originally decided to retire before Mendel, but agreed to stay on as Mendel’s effective successor to oversee the transition.

After retirement, Conrad plans to move to Bend, Ore., where he and his wife recently bought a house. There Conrad, an avid skier and cyclist, plans to spend more time outdoors.

“I’ve developed some hobbies that I like over a number of years and I’d like a little more time to pursue those hobbies,” Conrad told Automotive News. “It’s not an easy thing to do after you’ve been doing this for 13 hours a day for so many years, but life goes on, too.”

Arcangeli is a rare outside hire for the top ranks at American Honda and its global parent Honda Motor Co., both of which are known for their insular culture and strong preference for promoting internally.

Despite his newcomer status, Arcangeli’s background fits the mold of a Honda exec: He’s a trained engineer with degrees from Kettering University and Cornell University and an MBA from Stanford. He also has extensive experience leading companies with engine and vehicle manufacturing expertise.

Before becoming president of Yanmar North America, Arcangeli was president of Yamaha’s Motorsports Group Co. from 2006 to 2014. He also has executive experience at Pioneer, Thermador, General Electric and

“I want to thank Jeff for his selfless commitment to support the important transition to new leadership by helping onboard Henio Arcangeli Jr.,” American Honda CEO Toshiaki Mikoshiba said in a statement to Honda employees. “We have a strong team in place, and with the management experience and fresh thinking of Henio, we will continue our efforts to grow Honda and Acura business.”

Conrad, who joined Honda in 1982 as a district sales manager for New Jersey after seven years as a distribution manager for Ford, leaves American Honda at a time when its product portfolio is among the freshest and most critically acclaimed in the industry. The automaker has won two consecutive North American vehicle of the year awards and is set to launch a redesigned Accord sedan this year.

The long-running Takata airbag inflator crisis is mostly in the company’s rearview mirror as it agreed to a $605 million settlement last week that covers 11.4 million vehicle owners, though the company is still managing a massive recall effort.

American Honda’s U.S. sales are down 0.5 percent this year through August to 1,088,881 Honda and Acura vehicles.

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