Whenever top execs take a retirement, it always raises eyebrows. Did he really retire? Was he forced out? Did he just say, enough already? Make no mistake about Jed Connelly, the outgoing senior vice president of sales and marketing for Nissan North America. Jed is 60 and he truly is retiring from Nissan with full honors. Nissan says Jed just saw a good time to take retirement, what with the company moving its North American headquarters from southern California to Nashville, Tenn., and with a whole shuffling of top execs underway.
For sure, Connelly did great things for Nissan and leaves of his own free will. After taking the top marketing post in March 2000, he got Nissan off the ruinous rebate game it was playing in the late ‘90s. He pushed lower sticker prices instead of gimmicky rebates in an effort to give consumers the feeling that they were getting an honest sales proposition. He even endured falling sales as Nissan reconditioned its dealers, sales people and the buying public to view the brand as something other than a bargain house. Fortunately, he had some hot styling coming from Nissan’s design studios to back him up.
But there’s another issue here. Some say Connelly wasn’t high on leaving California for Tennessee. That’s unconfirmed, but it seems to be a popular sentiment at Nissan. The company thinks only half of the 1,300 people in its Los Angeles office will make the move this June. That just underscores that the company could be losing some good talent from a marketing and product planning organization that has stayed pretty close to the pulse of the American motor scene. The company also leaves the hip SoCal car scene for Middle America, which is a pretty questionable move. At his age, Connelly may not have been interested in working too much longer. But Nissan is clearly at risk of having other talented people staying put while Nissan leaves town.