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Janesville Craig grad to drive Nissan Americas

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JAMES P. LEUTE
June 3, 2011
— With 26 years of management experience in the auto industry, Bill Krueger has been the subject of several news releases.

It happened again this week when Nissan Americas announced Krueger will soon become its highest-ranking resident executive, making him responsible for the automaker’s daily operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and 37 other Latin American and Caribbean countries.


The responsibility for nearly 25,000 employees rests on the shoulders of the 1983 graduate of Janesville Craig High School.


“Every time those press releases get put together, the thing that makes me most proud is the part about Janesville and that I got my start at that plant in 1985,” Krueger said.


“I had so many great mentors there and was able to be associated with a work force that had such a great work ethic.”


As an electrical engineering and computer science major at Marquette University, Krueger was in a co-op program that allowed him to alternate semesters of school with semesters of work at the Janesville General Motors plant.


He started as an entry-level engineer and eventually worked his way up to body shop superintendent at the Janesville plant, which GM shuttered in phases in late 2008 and early 2009.


“That really saddened me, because the plant had built such a strong reputation,” Krueger said. “Janesville is a hard-working, resilient community.”


Krueger earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Marquette and a master of business administration degree from The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He also holds a master’s degree in engineering management from the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern.


Between his early days in Janesville and his new role with Nissan, he held several management positions with Toyota and was general manager at its plant in Georgetown, Ky.


“For me, it all started in Janesville, and it’s been a great 26 years in the auto industry,” said Krueger, the son of Sid and Sally Krueger.


Krueger will officially become vice chairman of Nissan Americas on June 13. Most recently, the 46-year-old was the automaker’s senior vice president, manufacturing, purchasing, supply chain management and total customer satisfaction. He was responsible for all manufacturing and supply-chain management functions for Nissan’s three U.S. plants and two Mexican plants.


The Japanese automaker divides its business into three global segments: Asia and Japan, Europe and Africa and the Americas.


“China is becoming so big that it’s about to become the proverbial fourth leg of the stool,” Krueger said.


Krueger will report to Colin Dodge, who was named this week as Nissan’s Americas chairman after Carlos Tavares became chief operating officer of Renault.


“Bill Krueger has demonstrated the business acumen and leadership qualities necessary to take on the added responsibilities required of a resident vice chairman,” Dodge said in the news release. “As I assume chairman responsibilities for the Americas, Bill will be instrumental in managing the day-to-day operational aspects of our business in the region.”


Krueger said that while that’s what the news release says, he knows better. One man, he said, can’t possibly handle day-to-day operations in 41 countries.


“I have a great team in place that will do that,” said Krueger, who has a wife and four children and still makes a couple of visits to Janesville every year. “I will have the good fortune to work with them and help remove some roadblocks and barriers.


“Coach (Mike) McCarthy didn’t throw the ball or block the defenders, but he was there to encourage, motivate and inspire, and look what happened for the Packers. That’s how I see my role.”



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