Toyota hopes to learn from Nissan’s 2006 transfer experience when moving headquarters

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 6, 2014

Toyota is moving its United States marketing base from California to Texas, and is looking forward to learn from the experience Nissan had when it moved from the state to Tennessee in 2006. In Nissan’s case, the Japanese carmaker lost around 60 percent of its 1,300-strong Los Angeles workforce, since employees were not willing to relocate from the city to Nashville.

Atlas Van Lines, a corporate relocation consulting firm, however, Nissan’s loss rate was not something unusual. Atlas Van Lines said in 2013 that average relocation had 54 percent of employees unwilling to relocated, although the figure has dropped slightly in recent years. Nissan, however, counters that “train-wreck scenario” that critics at the time proved to be wrong.

Larry Dominique, who was Nissan North America’s vice president of product planning at the time, remarked that he came to Nashville with only two of his nine product planners, while seven of them opted not to stay with the carmaker.

Dominique was then promoted as the carmaker’s top honcho after Jack Collins took the Nashville relocation as an opportunity to retire. The relocation also saw 12 high-level executives – including Jed Connelly, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the time -- opted to leave Nissan.

Dominique remarked that people were saying that Nissan would never be able to recruit new talents to replace everyone. He noted that in contrary, they were able to recruit new talents and “assembled a great staff.”

Following its relocation, Nissan was able to hike its headcount to 1,700 people while its US sales and market share have surged to new records.

Nissan was able to attract management and automotive r&d personnel from the Detroit 3 and other import brands, as well as managers from Spain, France, Portugal, United Kingdom and Australia.

As for Toyota, insiders told Automotive that they already dissected Nissan North America’s move. Toyota has also conceded that some personnel loss because of the relocation is unavoidable. [source: automotive news - sub. required]

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