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jill lajdziak
jill lajdziak
tuesday, january 05, 2010

roger penske appoints jill lajdziak to run smart USA.
as first posted on

just a few weeks ago, former saturn general manager jill lajdziak was hired by the penske automotive group to head sales and marketing for its smart USA operations. now, smart has announced that lajdziak will take over the entire operation as the new president of smart USA, replacing dave schembri who has held the post since its inception.

in the past several months, sales of the smart fortwo have collapsed in the states, with november '09 down 65 percent. from where we sit, lajdziak has a tough job ahead of her, trying to find a way to convince buyers that a tiny, but not inexpensive, car with disappointing fuel economy and a horrible transmission is a good idea. to be fair, tilting at windmills is nothing new for lajdziak, who worked at saturn throughout its entire twenty year run. revamping the sales network will apparently be a big part of her job, since a revamped version of the fortwo is not on the immediate horizon.
the official release statement is immediately below:
monday, january 04, 2010

penske automotive group announces management changes at smart USA.
bloomfield hills, mi

penske automotive group, an international automotive retailer and exclusive distributor of the smart fortwo through its wholly-owned subsidiary smart USA distributor, llc, announced today that jill lajdziak has been named president of smart USA. in this role, lajdziak will assume day to day operations for the smart brand in the united states. lajdziak has over 30 years of progressive automotive experience, including expertise in brand development, product marketing and customer satisfaction. penske automotive group chairman roger penske said, "as we look to enhance the position of the smart brand, jill's background and experience will help us reinvigorate the dealer network and bring a greater awareness to the smart brand." previously, smart USA was managed by dave schembri. schembri will transition into penske automotive group's retail operations. penske continued, "i would like to thank dave for his efforts over the last three and a half years with smart USA. his contributions were instrumental in helping us bring smart to the united states."
  jill's official posted on smartUSAinsider:
  monday, january 04, 2010

dear smart USA insiders,

as loyal smart owners and enthusiasts, it’s with great pleasure that I introduce myself to you as a new member of the smart family. while many of you are looking to the new year as a time for renewal and change, we at smart USA are doing the same. some of you likely heard the announcement made in early december that i joined the smart team. effective today, i am honored to take on the responsibility to serve as president of smart USA. no stranger to the automotive industry, my background includes 30 years of brand development, product marketing and customer enthusiasm. i am honored to lead such an innovative, forward-thinking brand and help set the pace for the future of the micro-car segment in america.

previously serving as president, dave schembri will have an opportunity in the penske automotive group’s retail operations. key to the launch of the smart brand in the U.S., his commitments are what bring us together today with a strong foundation for the future.

in the coming days, the smart USA team and I will review current owner communications, and I look forward to building relationships with as many of our smart family members as possible.

we know you support and believe in this brand and rest assured, we do too. i want you to know that i value your loyalty to smart and we will work hard every day to continue to earn your trust.
jill lajdziak
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