Without doubt Toyota is disappointed (and probably a lot of other emotions) about Jim Press leaving for Chrysler. Press — who has been with Toyota for 37 years, is the highest ranking Toyota executive in the U.S. and the first American on Toyota’s board — is resigning effective September 14. “I was looking forward to him playing a bigger role as a member of our management team, so I am sorry to see him leave. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for all he has done for Toyota,” commented Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe in a statement.
Press was lured away by Chrysler-Cerberus, likely by a combination of money and more hands on action, kind of like a player-manager in baseball, aging but still skilled enough to both play and coach. Unfortunately for Toyota, despite Press’ 37 years with the company, money talks and loyalty ostensibly has a lesser meaning in the U.S. than in Japan. And to be fair to Press, he was probably following his desire to do more, to have an impact, to have new excitement in a turnaround story. There’s no way he could have demanded more money from Toyota and even if, …. That’s just how things played out. See The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of Jim Press joining Chrysler.