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Romano returns to Canada

Hyundai said the newly created position of COO has been filled by industry veteran Don Romano.

Romano, who previously worked with Mazda in Canada before heading to the Middle East as the senior managing director and chief marketing officer with ALJ International, brings 29 years of experience to the position.

Hyundai says the COO underlines Hyundai Auto Canada’s recent growth in the market and calls the creation of the position a demonstration of its ability to “invest in key talent to fuel further development.”

Romano’s key responsibilities will be sales, marketing, parts, service, product and strategic planning, and public relations. He will report to Steve Kelleher, president and CEO.

As a result, Hyundai says Kelleher will spend more time managing the organization’s overall strategic direction as well as lead the company’s IT, legal, human resources, and finance departments.

Romano says he is looking forward to joining the Hyundai team and notes how the Korean brand has become a major world player in the auto space.

“I’m delighted that Don has agreed to join us at Hyundai and I’m eager to work with him to grow our business,” Kelleher says in a release. “Sales of Hyundai vehicles have doubled in the last ten years, and our employee headcount has grown by 54 per cent over the same time period. Effectively, we’ve grown to the point where we need additional C-level leadership.”

After entering the automotive industry with Nissan North America in 1985, Romano joined Mazda in 2000. Starting as a national brand manager in the company’s California office, he progressed through a number of sales and marketing focused positions before becoming the managing director and president of Mazda Canada in 2006.

He was named chief marketing officer in 2010 and led the company’s marketing activities across North America.

In 2012, Romano became the Senior Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer with ALJ International – his most recent position prior to Hyundai – where he established Toyota Saudi Arabia as the largest independent distributor for Toyota in the world with sales exceeding 300,000 units.