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Kevin Sullivan, Senior VP and CSO, Hitachi

The Team Leader

January 2008 By Janet Pinkerton
Dealerscope honors Kevin Sullivan, senior vice president & chief strategy officer at Hitachi Home Electronics America, for his 40-year career in the industry. Peers speak highly of his ability to build and guide industry teams with experience and integrity.

Sullivan’s latest team, at Hitachi, will showcase its UltraThin 1.5 LCD HDTV line at CES in the company’s bid to reposition the brand further upscale.

Paul Fredrickson, director of marketing at the semiconductor company Luminous Devices in Billerica, Mass., recalls his friend and former boss as an “excellent leader.”

Back in late 2001, Fredrickson and Sullivan had 90 days to transition the Loewe digital TV business out of Sensory Science, which was being purchased by Sonic Blue, and re-establish it as a new North American subsidiary of Germany-based Loewe Opta GmbH. “It was a big challenge, but we managed to pull it off,” without losing a single account, Fredrickson said.

Not only is Sullivan capable of putting together an organization from scratch, Fredrickson said, he builds “tremendous camaraderie” in the process.

“He would be very open with all the employees, and that made everybody work that much harder,” Fredrickson said. “They all felt to be an important part of the organization.”

Sullivan started in the industry in 1967, working as part-time salesperson within Sony’s premium/incentive division while completing an undergraduate degree. Except for a short stint with electronic supply distributor Graybar Electric, Sullivan’s career has been CE all the way, first with managerial positions within Magnavox, Quasar and Sharp.

From 1976 to 1981 he ran his own six-state distributorship, Sullivan’s Inc., based in Boston. Then, Mitsubishi, early in its bid for the American PTV market, hired him as vice president of its North East Zone, and later promoted him to vice president for North America.

Moving to Sensory Science in 1991, Sullivan launched the Go Video Dual Deck VCR as vice president of sales, and then became vice president of a new home theater division, securing the North American rights to Loewe digital televisions. In 2001, after Sonic Blue acquired Sensory Science, Loewe’s German parent company hired Sullivan and Fredrickson to establish its new American subsidiary.

Sullivan has a reputation as a “real straight shooter,” Fredrickson said. “Kevin is the guy, with customers especially, who always operated with the highest level of integrity.”

As a result, Fredrickson said, “He developed a lot of trust with a lot of people.”

That trust has helped Sullivan in his latest role at Hitachi. He joined the company as chief strategy officer in January 2005, after collaborating on the creation of the new position with Kenji Nakamura, general manager/executive vice president of Hitachi America’s consumer electronics division.
 

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