HOUSTON—Greg Clark, executive vice president of the Americas for Ineos Automotive, part of the British chemical company launching a rugged Land Rover Defender-like off-road vehicle in early 2023, has just one job: every job.
Clark, a former Jaguar Land Rover and Daimler A.G. marketing executive who was named to his post at Ineos in February, has on his to-do list:
- Select a location for the U.S. headquarters for the automotive operation of Ineos, which will begin building the Grenadier off-road vehicle in 2022 in a former Daimler plant in Hambach, France, minutes from the German border.
- Figure out how best to get vehicles to dealers in all 50 states. Clark says he's leaning toward appointing regional distributors that would deliver to multiple dealers instead of offering franchises to individual retailers.
- Hire the marketers, compliance managers, warranty administrators, zone managers, parts and service personnel and others who will staff the company's U.S. arm and ensure that vehicles and parts get delivered on time and with no defects.
- Just about everything else.
Ineos Group has sites in the U.S. that handle its chemical and materials businesses. Its U.S. headquarters is in the Houston suburb of League City, but the location is not suitable, Clark said, for the automotive division.
He views the placement of the automotive headquarters as critical to the division's success. Right now, he's scrutinizing cities on the Eastern Seaboard, which has a number of ports used by other importers, the proper transportation in place to rapidly move vehicles and parts, and good access to potential employees with automotive experience.
"We have to make the right decision," Clark said during an event in Houston to show an early version of the Grenadier to the media. "Being in an area where we can attract good talent and attract talent from other places of the country and that has the appropriate infrastructure is a big driver."
The ideal location, he says, will be within reasonable driving distance of somewhere the Grenadier can be used for its intended purpose: punishing off-road driving. Clark has been looking in Atlanta and the Carolinas. The Georgia capital is home to Porsche and Mercedes-Benz as well as Triumph Motorcycles America.