People, Places & Racing News

Movers & Shakers: Wade Kawasaki Announces Departure From Legendary Companies, Doug Evans to Become Interim CEO

Compiled by SEMA Editors

Wade Kawasaki

Wade Kawasaki Announces Departure From Legendary Companies, Doug Evans to Become Interim CEO

Legendary Companies—which includes Coker Tire, Wheel Vintiques, Universal Vintage Tire, Phoenix Race Tires, Specialty Wheel, MOR, Vintage Wheel Works, PS Engineering, Roadster Wire Wheel and Paragon Corvette Reproductions—has announced that Wade Kawasaki will transition from his role of CEO while remaining a partner in the business—a decision by Kawasaki who took on the CEO role with Legendary Companies three years ago. Industry veteran Doug Evans will join the Legendary Companies team as interim CEO as the company searches for a new leader. 

“After guiding Coker Tire through the acquisition process, I agreed to stay on as CEO for a three-year term to build the management team and add more companies to the portfolio,” said Legendary Companies President and CEO Wade Kawasaki. “As that term draws to a close, I am excited to take some personal time and pursue new interests. It’s been a tremendous honor serving as CEO and I know the company has a bright future. I’m also pleased to announce that we have asked my close friend and colleague Doug Evans to join the team as an Interim CEO while we begin a search process for a new leader.”

After the sale in 2018 of Coker Tire and Wheel Vintiques to Irving Place Capital (IPC), Kawasaki led Legendary Companies and helped the organization identify acquisitions and significantly expand the company’s management team. Kawasaki will retain an ownership stake in the company and work closely with IPC to execute a transition plan. The senior management team will continue to help guide the company along with IPC leadership and the new CEO.

Kawasaki has spent more than 40 years in the automotive aftermarket, 25 of which were spent in various leadership positions within SEMA, finishing his multi-term stint as chairman of the Board. During his time at Coker Tire, Kawasaki helped transform the family business into a lean, profitable and scalable operation before guiding the brand through its sale to IPC.

Tony AmbrozaTruck Hero Inc. Hires Former Carhartt Marketing Executive as New Chief Growth Officer

Truck Hero Inc. has announced the appointment of Tony Ambroza as chief growth officer. Ambroza will join the company's senior leadership team and report to CEO Bill Reminder. Ambroza will help guide the company's accelerated growth by leading the brand marketing team and Truck Hero's direct-to-consumer business powered by RealTruck.com. An accomplished senior marketing executive with industry experience across footwear, apparel and entertainment, Ambroza has achieved more than two decades of success in developing high-performance consumer brands. He joins Truck Hero from the Dearborn, Michigan-based workwear company Carhartt, where he served most recently as chief brand officer. In his role, Ambroza led the brand marketing and direct-to-consumer teams who scaled the Carhartt brand to historic levels across all segments and markets. Ambroza's experience also includes leadership roles at Nike and Under Armour.

CloyesCloyes Gear and Products Promotes Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith has been promoted to director of category management for Cloyes Gear and Products. In his new role, Smith will continue to develop and grow the department with additional resources, enhance the customer line review process and expand the company’s category management footprint to more customers. Smith joined Cloyes in December 2013 as sales and marketing coordinator where he played a key role in the management of several regional export accounts, PER customer base and customer pricing. Smith also served as project manager lead on the production of Cloyes aftermarket tech videos. He was promoted in May 2019 to manager of special markets and category management.

PermatexPermatex Teams with ASE to Help Train Technicians on Latest Innovations and Applications

Permatex has partnered with the ASE Education Foundation to provide product application training and education on the latest formulation advances for automotive students, instructors, parts professionals and professional automotive technicians. The partnership was announced by Permatex Product Manager Eric Seibold.

The inaugural program in the ASE Education Foundation collaboration is a Permatex-led online training webinar entitled, “How to Select and Apply the Right Gasket Maker.” This training segment provided technicians with important information on the different types of gasket makers, how they have evolved over the years, how to choose the correct gasket maker and proper application techniques. Permatex will conduct future training sessions, both online and in-person, on a variety of chemical technology topics for automotive maintenance and repair.

BremboBrembo to Become Official Partner in Braking Systems of Gran Turismo 7 for Playstation Consoles

Polyphony Digital Inc., developer of the Gran Turismo series for Playstation consoles since 1997, has chosen Brembo as the official technical partner in braking systems for Gran Turismo 7. The new video game will be available for PS4 and PS5 consoles March 4, 2022. Brembo will make its UPGRADE products available to players in the Tuning Shop of Gran Turismo 7—the virtual shop where they can upgrade the performance of their cars.

In this environment, gamers will be able to replace their original brake discs with those from the Sport range and, as they progress through the game, to upgrade their car with different Brembo braking systems. The choice will range up to the highest performing and most distinctive products for road cars, including Carbon Ceramic brake discs and GT|BM calipers, available in eight different colors.

Matthias ArlethMatthias Arleth to Be New CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of MAHLE Group

Matthias Arleth will be the new CEO and chairman of the management board of the MAHLE Group. The 53-year-old automotive engineer is joining the company from automotive component supplier Webasto SE, where he was most recently vice chairman of the board of management. Arleth will take up his position at the helm of MAHLE on January 1, 2022. He succeeds Dr. Jörg Stratmann, who left the group on March 31, 2021. Arleth has many years of experience in the automotive industry, both with manufacturers and with component suppliers. Arleth previously held positions with various companies, including the Volkswagen Group, where he was a development engineer and project manager with SEAT. In 1997, Arleth moved to a subsidiary of MAGNA, becoming head of sales and development and managing director. Subsequently, he assumed various management positions within Magna International, the last one being executive vice president of Magna E-Car Systems. In 2011, Arleth joined automotive component supplier Webasto SE as executive vice president of the roof systems business unit in Europe. In 2013, he was vice chairman of the Webasto sunroofs & components management board. In 2015, Arleth was appointed to the management board of Webasto SE, advancing to the position of vice chairman of the management board in 2017. As COO and CTO, he was in charge of all technical departments from product development through to responsibility for all production plants.

Have some company news you would like to share? Let us know and the news may appear in an upcoming issue of SEMA eNews. Send your items for consideration to editors@sema.org.