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LONG-SERVING Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) chief operating officer Phil Taylor has been promoted to chief executive of the leading truck brand as part of a senior leadership restructure that sees Hiroko Yaguchi hand over the CEO mantle but retain her position as managing director.

The promotion reflects Mr Taylor’s significant contribution to the business over the past three decades, having started out in Brisbane before moving to Isuzu’s head office in Melbourne 18 years ago.

Ms Yaguchi has led the company for the past 13 months, replacing Hiroshi Nishizaka who early last year stepped down from the position after less than a year into the job.

Mr Taylor’s step up as CEO also brings a promotion for sales and marketing director Andrew Harbison, who now takes on the role of COO.

In a statement, IAL said Mr Taylor’s new role will allow him to focus on “ensuring IAL continues implementing appropriate business strategies that take advantage of the latest technologies entering the Australian truck market”.

Leadership team: Phil Taylor (left) steps up as CEO alongside IAL MD Hiroko Yaguchi, with Andrew Harbison (second from right) now COO. Hiroaki Kudo remains director of administration and CFO.

The company said Ms Yaguchi had made a “significant contribution” to IAL’s future direction and strategic positioning, while Mr Harbison’s move up to COO “reflects a need to maintain the company’s focus on daily operations”.

The COO position requires overseeing various departments including sales, aftersales and marketing, product planning, engineering and IT.

The moves come as Isuzu’s truck sales (as distinct from its ute/SUV sales through Isuzu Ute Australia) are up 11.7 per cent to 4719 units at the halfway point of year, although its arch-rival Hino is outstripping the market leader in growth terms, up 20.2 per cent over the same period on 2660 sales.

Overall, the heavy commercial truck segment is booming this year, the 19,769 sales tally representing a 17.7 per cent increase over the first half of 2017.

“The 2018 Australian truck market is showing levels of strength and growth unseen since the record market numbers set in 2007,” Ms Yaguchi said.

“At the same time, the market is being flooded with an unprecedented level of new technologies, including enhanced safety features, electric and autonomous vehicles to name a few.

“Going forward, IAL must maintain its market strength to take advantage of these seismic shifts.”

IAL has been the number-one truck brand in Australia for a phenomenal 29 consecutive years, with Ms Yaguchi claiming its success is “the product of balancing an understanding of current issues with an eye on future trends”.

“Australia’s trucking landscape faces disruption and change from many different angles, and IAL is responding with a number of new initiatives and an organisational structure that targets our key areas of focus,” she said.

“Phil, Andrew and myself are excited to meet these challenges and advance to even greater triumphs that drive our business forwards.”

By Terry Martin