US: Smart snares Saturn supremo

By just-auto.com editorial team | 8 December 2009

Smart USA Distributor, a Penske Automotive Group (PAG) subsidiary, has recruited former Saturn general manager Jill Lajdziak as vice president, sales and marketing.

Her responsibilities will include enhancing awareness of the Smart brand, PAG said in a statement. The giant automotive retail group, whose network includes the 100-outlet Sytner luxury car dealer chain here in the UK, recently ended a bid to acquire the 'import fighter' Saturn brand from General Motors, reportedly after being unable to secure a suitable supply of cars once GM stopped production.

Lajdziak joins Smart on 1 January. She has 30 years of automotive industry experience and has a reputation for building brand awareness and customer loyalty through a focus on the 'customer experience' and developing a strong dealer network, Penske said.

She'll head the Smart field sales organisation, including directing all aspects of advertising, marketing and sales promotion and will work directly with dealers body to develop business opportunities.

Chairman Roger Penske said: "I am pleased that Jill has accepted our invitation to join Smart as we enhance the position of [the brand] as part of the automotive landscape. With her background building the Saturn organisation and her expertise in customer satisfaction, product marketing, and brand development, Jill is an outstanding fit, and I am confident that she will help us grow [Smart]."