Schembri and Killen – American Marketing Management Out at Mitsubishi


Editors NOTE: Since this was written, Dave Schembri has landed at Roger Penski’s smart operations in the USA. Schembri had been head of smart at Mercedes-Benz USA prior to joining MMNA. Wayne Killen joined Hyundai Motor America as Director of Product Planning in early 2007.
Mitsubishi Motors North America announced on Friday, February 17, that Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing David Schembri and Vice President of Marketing Wayne Killen had resigned from the Company. In a statement by Mitsubishi, “Both left to pursue other opportunities.”
The former Mitsubishi marketing duo joined Mitsubishi at a time when sales were off drastically from prior years and no rebound in sight. Just stabilizing losses and rebuilding from a lower base of sales may have been considered a success, but even after a year with Dave Schembri running Sales and Marketing the Titanic couldn’t be turned.
Schembri joined Mitsubishi Motors North America in February 2005 after serving as the chief of the Maybach brand at Mercedes-Benz USA and then head of its still-born smart division. With the demise of smart’s efforts in the USA shortly following the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Schembri moved westward to Mitsubishi headquarters in Cypress, California.
Wayne Killen, brand manager for the ill-advised Maybach brand at MBUSA joined Schembri at Mitsubishi in August 2005 as Vice President of Marketing. Working for Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America early in his career (1987 – 1989), Killen had most recently spent ten years at Mercedes-Benz USA. At MMNA, Killen was responsible for advertising, brand experience marketing, product and marketing public relations and product strategy.
During their tenure at MMNA, Schembri and Killen launched the 2005 Mitsubishi Eclipse and Mitsubishi Raider pickup and had just completed the public introduction of the soon-on-sale Eclipse Spyder.
The duties of Schembri and Killen are beeing handled by Hiroshi Harunari. Harunari has bee co-Chief Operating Officer of Mitsubishi Motors North America since January 2006. Rich Gilligan, former head of Mitsubishi’s manufacturing operations in Normal Illinois continues as the other co-COO.
These moves at Mitsubishi demonstrate the level of exposure senior managers take at some import-brand distributors. Last Fall, Peter Butterfield was ousted from his position as head of Kia Motors of America. In January, after a very confident presentation at the 2006 North American Auto Show in Detroit, Bob Cosmai fell at Hyundai Motor America. While Schembri and Killen had not yet been able to stabilize MMNA’s fortunes in the USA, Butterfield and Cosmai were managing companies that have healthy growth and prospects.

This article has 6 comments

  1. DAFKG 06/19/2006, 2:14 pm:

    Does anyone know where Dave Schembri is working now?
    July 3, 2006: Dave Schembri has just emerged as President of smart USA working with Roger Penske. This fits very well with Schembri’s experience as head of the smart team at Mercedes-Benz USA when they were planning on importing the car through MBUSA. Apparently, Dave has been working on smart with Penske since he left Mitsubishi in February.

  2. timothy Burke 01/04/2007, 10:54 am:

    Yes! I just met David Schembri a couple of days ago to discuss the new SMART vehicle. Please contact me if you would like more information.
    What is your take on the potential for smart in the USA. What tricks do Schembri and Penske have up their sleeves?

  3. Bobby Likis 01/29/2007, 1:05 pm:

    No tricks re the Smart car. Certainly no tricks expected from Roger Penske.
    8 years ago during a vacation in Italy, I first spotted the Smart – actually visited the Naples dealer and purchased two cars ($9K each) – but delivery to the US was not possible. I followed Steve Schneider’s pursuit of this vehicle – saw what happened later on between his company and MB – was not surprised.
    I’m delighted to see this vehicle finally arriving in the US, but in order to ensure consumer’s acceptance, it’s essential that parts & service needs are in place. I’ve toured a European dealer (see photos) and know that parts & service are Smart’s weakest link.
    Let’s hope that Mr. Penske and Mr. Schrembi have fully addressed this with their “Smart Team America.” I, for one, am ready to buy the first two cars off the boat.
    Bobby Likis,
    Robert A. “Bobby” Likis
    President & CEO
    Car Clinic Productions, Inc.
    5675 North Davis Highway
    Pensacola, Florida 32503
    ring 850-478-3139
    fax 850-477-0862
    Live Saturday 10a – 12n ET
    888-Car-Clinic (888-227-2546)

  4. catherine meyer 09/14/2007, 7:30 am:

    We have two smart cars that we bought in Mexico 2 years ago. Mind is the four four, which I”m told is not being made anymore. (too bad) My husband drives the Smart Brabus. We love both of them. I could have sold a thousand of them in the last two years what with all the questions people ask me wherever I go.
    If they are sold in California I would be interested in helping to them sell them because I wouldn’t have any trouble selling something I totally believe in.

  5. Robert Rodgers 12/15/2007, 10:33 am:

    I’ve been a Mercedes lover for over 25 years. I’ve also owned about 10 M-B cars amd rstored about 6 of them over that period and when I test drove the Smart Car I wanted one right away, that was 3 years ago. I’d like to work with Smart Fortwo Team so get back to me, I’m in Williamsburg, Va.

  6. Steve Smith 01/30/2008, 7:05 am:

    Does anyone know how I may be able to get in touch with Dave Schembri or his marketing team? I have a product that would complement the Smart Car and most definitely increase sales in the American and European markets.
    Thanks, Steve S.

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