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New leaders to steer growth at Alabama operations of Mercedes, Honda

There are new faces at the top of Alabama’s auto industry, as both Mercedes-Benz and Honda plan leadership changes in the coming months.

Tetsuya Endo will become the new president of Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, effective April 1, the company said last week. Endo, who comes to HMA from Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant, is replacing Tsutomu “Mori” Morimoto, who is moving to an executive role at the Ohio facility.

Endo has been with Honda since 1982 and served in a number of leadership positions at Honda locations in North America and Japan.

“Tetsuya Endo has served in a valuable role in Honda operations in North America,” said Morimoto. “His extensive knowledge of manufacturing, along with overall business operations, makes him a perfect fit to lead HMA into the future.”

Morimoto joined Honda in 1985 and served as president of Honda of Canada Mfg. before joining HMA’s $2.8 billion, 4,500-worker operation in Talladega County last year. During his tenure, the company has taken on investments of more than $150 million and re-introduced the all-new Honda Passport SUV to the market.

MERCEDES HOMECOMING

Across the state at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa County, Jason Hoff is leaving his post for a position in Germany later this year.

Hoff, MBUSI president and CEO and head of Production SUV/Sports Cars since 2013, will become the new head of Quality Management at Mercedes-Benz Cars worldwide, effective July 1. In his new role, he will remain closely associated with all Mercedes-Benz Cars production plants worldwide.

During Hoff’s career with the automaker, he has been responsible for procurement of interior components for the C- and E-Class sedans. He also served in other management roles at MBUSI.

His replacement in Alabama is Michael Goebel, currently head of Compact Cars Production Mercedes-Benz Cars.

This marks a return to MBUSI for Goebel, who was the head of Planning at the Tuscaloosa plant at the beginning of 2008. He has held various management positions in production, planning and logistics with the automaker, which he joined in 1990.

In his new role, the company said Goebel “will continue to develop the Tuscaloosa site and make it fit for the future, leveraging his many years of production and management experience.”

$1 BILLION EXPANSION

MBUSI has grown continuously since it launched Alabama’s auto industry 25 years ago. One of the most recent moves is a plant in Bibb County that will supply battery packs for the automaker’s state-built electric vehicles.

Construction on that project, a key component of a $1 billion expansion, kicked off last fall.

Other new and upcoming management shifts at Mercedes and its parent, Daimler, involve former MBUSI heads.

Ola Kaellenius, Daimler’s current research and development chief who led the Alabama operation from 2009 to 2010, is set to succeed Dieter Zetsche as Daimler’s CEO later this year. And Markus Schaefer, who followed Kaellenius in Tuscaloosa, running the plant from 2010 to 2013, is slated to succeed him in the R&D role.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)