March 15, 2022 – TurningPoint Executive Search recently recruited Steven Center as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Kia America. Senior partner Raquel Gallant led the assignment. “Steven is a proven innovator with an impressive track record within the automotive industry,” said Ms. Gallant. “I knew he was the whole package when I got to know him and learned he had both strong legacy automotive knowledge and impressive background in the innovation of alternative fuel vehicles, his forward-thinking mindset was just what we had been looking for.”
“Steven Center is a proven innovator with an impressive history of record-breaking achievements,” said Sean Yoon, president and CEO of Kia North America and Kia America. “Kia is focused on becoming a leader in sustainable mobility, and Steven’s combination of retail and customer service expertise, forward-thinking leadership, and advancement of alternative fuel vehicles will inform and strengthen our total transformation.” Mr. Center is former vice president of the automobile sales strategy division of American Honda Motor Co. Having served in various roles at Honda since 1993, he brings a wealth of experience to his new role. Most recently, Mr. Center oversaw Honda’s four automobile regions in the U.S.
His responsibilities also included Honda and Acura market representation, sales and production planning, certified pre-owned sales, dealer communication, product, and sales information, as well as export sales and distribution.
Mr. Center will oversee strategy and execution for Kia’s sales, service, and marketing operations in the U.S. and will report to Mr. Yoon “Kia is clearly on the rise, and I am excited for the opportunity to continue building and growing the brand in the U.S.,” said Mr. Center. “This is a time of tremendous change in the auto industry, and I look forward to working closely with the executive management team and retailers to deliver on Kia’s ambitious sustainable mobility plans.”
Headquartered in Irvine, CA, Kia America continues to top automotive quality surveys and is recognized as one of the 100 Best Global Brands. Kia serves as the “Official Automotive Partner” of the NBA and offers a complete range of vehicles sold through a network of nearly 750 dealers in the U.S., including several cars and SUVs assembled in America.
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TurningPoint is an executive recruiting resource for sales, marketing, operations, and executive leadership professionals across the U.S. The firm launched in 2007 in San Diego. Its team offers experience in recruiting, human resources, sales, marketing, training, and management. Ken Schmitt, who has been a recruiter for close to 25 years, is founder and CEO.
Mr. Schmitt and his team have placed nearly 400 of the nation’s leading sales, marketing, operations, and C-suite professionals, partnering with national clients across numerous industries such as tech, software, transportation, manufacturing, distribution, consumer products, professional and financial services, healthcare, life sciences, and hospitality. TurningPoint takes a concierge-style approach to placing talent in various business structures, including privately held, venture-backed start-ups, private equity-owned early-stage, and mature, family-owned businesses.
Ms. Gallant has completed multiple executive and mid-level searches including president, CEO, executive director, COO/VP operations, GM, CMO, SVP sales, VP sales operations, and sales director. Her experience in recruiting, career coaching, and human resources is backed by a degree in psychology from the University of San Francisco.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media