Steve Kelleher retiring after 28 years with Hyundai

Chief Operating Officer Donald Romano to assume role of President and CEO on May 1

MARKHAM, ON, April 14, 2014 /CNW/ - After 28 years with Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. and serving as its President and CEO since 2002, Steve Kelleher has elected to retire on April 30. Under Mr. Kelleher's guidance, the Hyundai brand has enjoyed a period of tremendous growth and is now one of the dominant players in the Canadian automotive industry. Over the past 10 years in particular, the company's dealer network has grown to 210 locations, sales and market share have more than doubled, and Hyundai products have won numerous, prestigious Canadian automotive awards.

On May 1 Chief Operating Officer Donald Romano will be promoted to President and CEO, replacing Mr. Kelleher.

"It's with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride that I am able to announce my retirement from Hyundai Auto Canada," said Mr. Kelleher. "Working for Hyundai in Canada has been an incredibly rewarding, exciting, and challenging experience. My retirement is something I have been working toward for some time and am able to make this step because we have found the right person in Don Romano to take Hyundai to the next level of success."

Mr. Romano joined Hyundai Auto Canada on January 6 after accumulating over 29 years of automotive experience through increasingly senior positions in Canada, the United States, and overseas representing the Nissan, Mazda, and Toyota brands. In particular, Mr. Romano was President of Mazda Canada from 2006 to 2012. In 2010 his responsibilities at Mazda expanded to include Chief Marketing Officer and guide the company's marketing activities across North America.

Mr. Romano's extensive operations and marketing background will be key as Hyundai continues to elevate its brand into a more premium position in the industry. The introduction of the all-new Genesis premium sedan at the Toronto Auto Show this year was his first step in that direction, and will be followed by the launch of the all-new Sonata on April 16 at the New York International Auto Show.

"Hyundai has achieved unprecedented sales growth over the past decade. To continue that trend, it will be my responsibility to challenge all aspects of our operations and elevate our performance in every area of our business" said Mr. Romano.

"We would like to recognize Mr. Kelleher's unparalleled service to the Hyundai brand and congratulate him on a truly exceptional career," said Tak Uk Im, Executive Vice President & COO, Head of International Operations Division, Hyundai Motor Company. "Due to his courage and skilled leadership, Hyundai grew remarkably and emerged as a leader in Canada. For 28 years he served with honour, distinction, and the strength of character. We are, and shall remain, forever grateful."

After 10 years at the Ford Motor Company of Canada, Mr. Kelleher joined Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. in 1986; just three years after the storied South Korean brand first entered the Canadian marketplace. Initially working in the Parts Department, Mr. Kelleher quickly rose through the ranks and eventually became the Director of Parts and Service in 1995. In 1997, he was named Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Parts, and Service and retained the position until his promotion to President and CEO in 2002.

Hyundai's most dramatic growth in the Canadian market was during Mr. Kelleher's tenure as President and CEO. In 2002, the company sold 66,917 new vehicles from a line-up of products bearing six nameplates and found at 156 dealerships nationwide. In 2013, a record total of 137,100 vehicles were sold - more than double what was sold in 2002 - from 210 dealerships showcasing 12 nameplates.

Further, under Mr. Kelleher's watch, three Hyundai vehicles have won the country's top automotive honour: the Genesis premium sedan won 2009 Canadian Car of the Year, followed by the Elantra compact sedan with the 2012 Canadian Car of the Year award, and finally the Santa Fe Sport won 2013 Canadian Utility Vehicle of the Year. All three awards demonstrate the company's broad-based strength in the premium vehicle, compact car, and compact SUV segments.

Finally, the company also launched its first Corporate Social Responsibility program in 2012. Hyundai Hockey Helpers is a national program that provides grants to help kids pay for equipment and registration fees to play organized hockey. In the past two years, the program has helped 4,778 kids get into the game. Mr. Kelleher grew-up playing hockey and  attributes much of his career success to the lessons he learned from the sport.

"Hockey teaches kids how to work with a team, resiliency, good sportsmanship, and the value of hard work. On or off the ice, those are skills every child should have the opportunity to learn," said Mr. Kelleher.

"On behalf of all the Hyundai employees and dealers that have worked with Mr. Kelleher over the years, I would like to thank him for his visionary guidance," said Mr. Romano. "The single best way we can honour his investment of time and energy is to dedicate ourselves to our business and ensure Hyundai continues to succeed. He has led us on a path to new heights and it's now our responsibility to continue that trend."

Hyundai Auto Canada, established in 1983 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout Canada by Hyundai Auto Canada and are sold and serviced through 210 dealerships nationwide. Learn more at

Image with caption: "After 28 years with Hyundai Auto Canada Corp., Steve Kelleher has decided to retire on April 30, 2014. Don Romano, currently the company's Chief Operating Officer, was announced as his replacement and will assume his title and responsibilities on May 1, 2014. (CNW Group/Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. Chief Operating Officer Don Romano will be promoted to President and CEO effective May 1, 2014. He is replacing Steve Kelleher who has decided to retire after 28 years with the company. (CNW Group/Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.

For further information:

For interviews or additional information, please contact:

Chad Heard, Public Relations Manager, Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.
Office: (905) 948-6712, Mobile: (416) 559-9640, Email:

Patrick Danielson, Public Relations Specialist, Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.
Office: (905) 948-6876, Mobile: (416) 518-5852, Email:

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