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Changes At Top For Several CE Suppliers

Numerous top CE companies announced changes in their executive suites during the past two weeks — some due to the beginning of the Japanese fiscal year on April, with others occurring coincidentally around that date.

Among the top-tier title changes are the following: JVC’s Harry Elias is named honorable chairman; Mike Aguilar is appointed president of the Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company; Bob Hana, formerly NEC Technologies’ Visual Systems Division VP, joins Runco International as president (see story on p. 22); Samsung’s Peter Weedfald becomes senior VP/strategic marketing; and Sony’s Dick Komiyama is named president of Sony Electronics.

Here is a company-by-company breakdown of the appointments:

JVC Of America: Elias, executive VP/COO of the company has been named honorable chairman, a new post, which was effective April 1.

Craig Geiger, Midwest branch VP, has been named executive VP/COO, assuming Elias’ former responsibilities and reporting to Neil Kurihara, president.

In a prepared statement, JVC said in his new position. Elias “will utilize his extensive industry experience and knowledge to guide the formulation of key strategic initiatives for the company, with a focus on revenue enhancement and market-share expansion.” JVC added Elias will also play an important role in supporting relationships between JVC’s new senior management and top management and the company’s key retail customers.

Taking on Geiger’s responsibilities in the Midwest is Bill Utermark, Midwest branch sales manager, who has been named Midwest branch manager.

Samsung Electronics America: Peter Weedfald, marketing communications and new media VP, was named senior VP/strategic marketing. Weedfald, who joined the company in October 2001, now leads all strategic branding and marketing directions for all Samsung operations and Samsung North American affiliates.

Among the programs started by Weedfald include a major national North American advertising and branding campaign launched in 2002 and a national 24/7 interactive network of 375 top-rated Web sites, which generates 700 million impressions a month. He also established Samsung’s Four Seasons of Hope, a corporate goodwill campaign that teams four of the country’s top athletes (Magic Johnson, Arnold Palmer, Joe Torre and Boomer Esiason) with four leading retailers (Best Buy, CompUSA, Sears, and Radio Shack) to raise funds for four charities associated with the athletes.

Panasonic: Mike Aguilar, formerly Panasonic Consumer Electronics Merchandising Group senior VP, has been named president of the its National Sales Group.

Aguilar replaces Steve Gold, who will leave the company to pursue other interests, effective April 30.

“I am confident that Mike Aguilar will do an outstanding job in leading Panasonic’s National Sales Group to further success in expanding sales with our national account customers,” said Andy Takani, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. “I am also very pleased that Steve Gold, who has always been a great team player, will be working closely with Mike in order to achieve a smooth transfer of responsibilities over the next month.”

With the change, Takani will directly oversee management of the Merchandising Group on an interim basis, the company said.

Sony Corp.: Hideki “Dick” Komiyama has been named president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, effective April 1, succeeding Fujio Nishida, who has been named corporate senior VP and electronics chief marketing officer of Sony Corp.

Komiyama, a 36-year veteran of Sony currently serves as a corporate VP, in addition to being the president of Sony Corp.’s Electronic Devices Marketing Group based in Tokyo. He has also served for many years in the United States in a variety of management positions, including the recent role as president of Sony Electronics’ Information Technology Co., where he spearheaded the integration of Sony’s VAIO PC sales, marketing, engineering and manufacturing operations. Subsequently, he was deputy president of Sony Electronics’ Consumer Electronics Group until 2001.

In a prepared statement, Sony said “Komiyama returns to Sony Electronics as it sets its sights on leading the digital AV/IT marketplace into the broadband future. He is expected to champion the market for innovative electronics devices and services that will enhance both consumer lifestyles and create new business-to-business solutions.”

In Nishida’s new role at corporate headquarters he will report directly to Kunitake Ando, the president and group COO of Sony Corp. Nishida, who spent the last three years as president/COO of Sony Electronics, will also serve as deputy president of the Home Network Co. and deputy president of the IT and Mobile Solutions Network Co. He is charged with developing global marketing strategies and customer-focused initiatives that will effectively be integrated throughout the Sony group.

He will also head up Sony’s worldwide Memory Stick business center, which aims to make this versatile flash media format a de facto global standard among hundreds of manufacturers for digital imaging, video and data sharing applications across various electronic devices. In addition, he will have international responsibility for Sony’s marketing talent development strategy.

Other Sony Corp. executives also received new responsibilities. Ken Kutaragi, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment and a member of the corporate board, has been named executive deputy president of Sony Corp., in addition to his other duties.

Sony Corp.’s CEO Nobuyuki Idei has added the title of CEO of the Sony Group. Ando adds the title COO with the Sony Group.