Don Romano and Thomas Pixton Leave Mazda image

Chief marketing officer for Mazda North American Operations, Don Romano, resigned from his position after 12 years with the company.

Romano was Chief marketing officer for Mazda North American Operations and the president of Mazda Canada Inc. He will be succeeded by Shusuke “Kory” Koreeda, who was previously executive vice president of Mazda Canada.

Since March, when the company began restructuring its North American operations, Romano, 51, is the highest-profile executive to leave Mazda. On July 2nd, Mazda laid off 107 workers that accepted voluntary buyout packages. No details were given about Romano’s resignation circumstances.

“It’s really a shock,” said Randy Hiley, owner of three Mazda dealerships in Texas and Alabama. “He was really well respected and liked by the dealers in the United States and in Canada.”

But Romano is not the only one to leave the company. After the annual shareholders’ meeting from June 27th Ford appointee on Mazda’s board, Thomas Pixton, also left the carmaker. This means that Ford lost control of both Mazda’s shares and its number of board representatives. If in 1979 Ford has 25% stake in Mazda, and in 1996 33.4%, it now has only 2.1%.