Robert J. Thomas

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Robert J. Thomas is a former president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Corporation, U.S.A., and Clinton administration-appointee for the One America Initiative. Thomas was president and CEO of Nissan Motors USA from 1993 to 1997.[1] In 2000, he became chief executive officer for the North American operations of, an automotive news provider.[2]

Early life

Thomas was born in Denver, Colorado, in 1945, and grew up in Hyannis, Nebraska, where he worked summers on a ranch. While in high school in North Platte, Nebraska, Thomas was selected to the All-State football team and was also a Scholastic All-American in his senior year. He was appointed to the United States Air Force Academy, where he received a bachelor of science degree in engineering management in 1967. He was also a member of the academy's track and field team, participating in the sprint medley, shot put and discus. In his senior year, he was commander of the 22nd Squadron and a member of the academy's ethics committee.[3]

Military and professional career

Upon graduation he served in the United States Air Force until 1972, achieving the rank of captain. His service included a tour of duty at the Space and Missile Systems Center in the Los Angeles area, where he was the financial manager for a program office handling a restricted-data defense system. Following his honorable discharge, he worked briefly for the Allstate Insurance Company before moving to the Ford Motor Company, where he spent ten years with Ford's Lincoln-Mercury division prior to joining Nissan.[2][3]

Soon after arriving at Nissan Thomas was running its sales operations, and in a 1988 reorganization that divided the company into three entities (Nissan, Infiniti and parts and service) Thomas was made a vice president and head of the Nissan division. In 1993 he succeeded Thomas Mignanelli as corporate president and CEO when Mignanelli retired after heart surgery. However, after 21-month slide in sales, Nissan announced on October 7, 1997, that Thomas was resigning for personal reasons. He was replaced by Minoru Nakamura, then-current chairman of Nissan Motors USA and president of Nissan North America (the parent company of Nissan Motors USA).[1]

In July 2000, Roberts was named chief executive officer for North American operations of, responsible for North American sales and marketing, partner relationship management and business development.[2] In November of that same year, he was promoted to corporate chief operating officer, with Peter Steinlauf (the controlling shareholder) assuming the titles of chairman and CEO.[4] He served in that position until his retirement in August 2004.[5]

Honors and awards

In February 1997, Thomas was appointed as an advisory board member to the "One America in the 21st Century: The President's Initiative on Race" commission[6] as the sole business representative on the seven-person body.[7] He also served on the Board of Directors for the Smithsonian Institution's New Business Ventures in 1998 and 1999.[2]

Personal life

Thomas has a wife, Avis, and is the father of two grown children Craig and Angela. Robert died November 23, 2014, on Oahu, Hawaii, from cancer [2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 John O'Dell (October 7, 1997). "Nissan Motor USA Chief Executive Quits". Los Angeles Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jeannine Fallon (July 17, 2000). "INDUSTRY VETERAN BOB THOMAS NAMED CEO OF EDMUNDS.COM".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 The White House. "Robert Thomas".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. " Promotes Members of Executive Management Team". November 22, 2000.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Promotes Jeremy Anwyl to CEO, Avi Steinlauf to President, June 12, 2007<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "President Clinton Announces Race Initiative", Civil Rights Monitor, 9 (2–3), Spring–Summer 1997<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Pop Carts", reveries Magazine, August 1998<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>