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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023



Uphill Effort in L.A. for Vespa’s New U.S. Chief

An avid scooter rider, Costantino Sambuy is trying to reintroduce the Vespa in the U.S. market after years of absence.

Sambuy, the new chief executive and president of Piaggio USA, manufacturer of Vespa scooters, said the company pulled out of the United States 15 years ago because it was not a priority.

“We also needed time to develop new technology to meet tough pollution standards,” said Sambuy, who traded London, where he was U.K. marketing director, for new digs in Rancho Dominguez, the company’s U.S. headquarters.

The Italian imports, which sell for $3,000 to $4,000, returned to the U.S. in 2000. Last year, sales in the U.S. increased 32 percent, Sambuy said.

“The challenge is to continue this growth by first raising awareness to develop the scooter market, and then capture those customers,” Sambuy said.

Sambuy faces similar challenges in the U.S. market to those that he had with British consumers.

“Five years ago, there was no scooter culture in the U.K. and it was fairly uncool to ride one,” he said. “It’s not as bad here in America, but a Vespa scooter is not on top of mind.”

British sales have tripled, and Sambuy plans to use similar strategies to push the Vespa brand in the United States. The company’s public relations efforts are targeting 30 to 40 year-olds who are familiar with the Vespa name and looking for more convenient, fuel-efficient transportation methods.

The scooters, which are designed for short trips, also will be marketed to 16-to-25 year olds. “The youngsters are more keen to try them and less scared, but they are also distracted by cars,” Sambuy said.

The marketing approach will differ slightly among U.S. cities.

“San Francisco is more scooter friendly, it’s a smaller, more European city,” Sambuy said. “In L.A. it’s going to be a more difficult sell.”

Koula Gianulias

Advertising/Public Relations

Porter Novelli, a Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm, has promoted Bill Kolberg to general manager of its Los Angeles branch. Kolberg joined Porter Novelli in 1994 to manage the company’s 600-restaurant McDonald’s Operators’ Association of Southern California account.

BBDO West has taken on Nick Bartle as executive vice president of account planning. Bartle had been a director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

Deutsch Inc. has promoted Jamie Adams to executive vice president and Alasdair Lloyd-Jones to senior vice president, in the company’s data strategy and account planning department. Adams, who joined Deutsch in 1998, previously worked in marketing for Mercedes-Benz, Columbia House, Scholastic Inc. and Conde Nast. Before joining Deutsch in 2000, Lloyd-Jones was managing director at Osprey Communications in England.


Randy Andrus, senior pre-construction manager for Kajima Construction Services in Monterey Park, has been appointed chairman of Associated General Contractors of California’s Los Angeles district. Andrus has worked on educational, commercial and industrial projects with Kajima for 13 years.

First Consulting Group has appointed Michael P. Downey to its board. Downey, a private investor and executive consultant and board member of Artisoft Inc. and Emulex Corp., will lead the First Consulting’s audit committee.


Retail apparel company So Low has named Laura Chambers president. Chambers had been president and vice-president of sales and marketing at such firms as Coogi, Replay, Edwin Jeans and L.A. Gear.

Financial Services

California Bank & Trust has appointed Scott Monson executive vice president and regional executive director of commercial banking. Monson will direct commercial lending and international banking activities throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties. Previously, he was executive vice president at Comerica Bank.

Health Care

Peter B. Welch has been promoted to president of CIGNA HealthCare of California Inc. from his post as vice president of sales. Before coming to CIGNA, Welch was California regional sales director at United HealthCare/Uniprise.

Employee benefits consulting firm Keenan & Associates has taken on Steven J. Richter as senior vice president of its health care division. Richter, who previously worked for Watson Wyatt, has experience in developing employer benefit programs.

The Dental Board of California has named Cynthia Gatlin executive officer. Gatlin most recently served as chief of the Consumer Information Center for the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

Mary Molina Bernadett, Michael V. Drake, Jimmy Hara, David Hayes-Bautista, Craig Lenz, Dennis Mull, and Conrad Rios have been appointed members of the Health Manpower Policy Commission. The commission sets standards of funding eligibility under the Song-Brown Act and criteria for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development for executing contracts with training institutions.

Mary Jo Gorman, vice president of medical affairs for IPC The Hospitalist Co., has been named the company’s chief medical officer. Gorman will develop programs to improve clinical performance and oversee physician recruitment and training, call center nurses, health care services and clinical studies. She founded the first hospitalist practice in St. Louis in 1997.


White & Case LLP has named Maria K. Pum partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Pum, who has a finance and restructuring practice, was a partner with Brobeck Phleger & Harrison.

Debra E. Pole and Gregg A. Farley have been named partners in the Los Angeles office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. Pole and Farley specialize in product liability cases and were partners at Brobeck Phleger & Harrison’s Los Angeles office.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP has appointed William T. Quicksilver chief operating officer. Quicksilver is a corporate and finance partner and co-chair of the firm’s business and transactions division and has been with Manatt for more than 25 years.

John T. Rogers Jr., a partner at Holland & Knight LLP, has been appointed chair of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel’s technology in the practice committee. Rogers specializes in trust, estate and conservatorship. The committee monitors and gives advice on how to implement technological developments for its members.

Thelen Reid & Priest has made Charles R. Gossage partner of construction and government contracts in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

Labor law firm Littler Mendelson P.C., has named Martha Keon and Fermin Llaguno shareholders. Keon represents employers in wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination and wage matters. Llaguno works in litigation of all aspects of employer and labor law.


Ron Tippe has been named vice president of development at media marketing firm Route 66 Productions. Tippe started at Route 66 as director of development, productions. He began his career as a theatrical director and has produced animated features for Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks.


Entertainment software publisher THQ Inc. has appointed Peter Dille senior vice president of worldwide marketing, North American sales and Tiffany Ternan senior vice president of North American sales and distribution. Dille has worked at THQ since 1999 and Ternan joined THQ in 1992.

Gary Skeen Hall has been promoted to vice president of post-production at Fox Television Studios where he will oversee program development presentations, pilots and series episodes. Hall began at Fox in 1998 after working as a production consultant and associate producer at Cartoon Network and Warner Bros. Television.

Remote movie ticket vender Fandango Inc. has named Dan Mohler vice president of sales. Mohler, who was western region director of sales at the Ticketmaster Media Group, will oversee Fandango’s partnerships with national advertisers.

Los Angeles Newspaper Group, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News and seven other newspapers, has named John Hoeft vice president of interactive media. Hoeft will oversee revenue, product development and content publishing for eight Web sites. He has been business development manager for Media News Group Interactive since September 2002.


The Union Rescue Mission has named Robert Hobbs vice president of marketing and communications. Hobbs has worked with U.S. and international development agencies, including American Leprosy Missions and World Vision.

Heart of Los Angeles Youth, an inner-city community development organization, has hired Tony M. Brown to lead fundraising activities as director of development and Lisa Rodriguez to lead corporate, government and foundation grants.

Real Estate

Jonathan Marine will be heading the Los Angeles office of recently formed Sage Real Estate Strategies, an advisory firm serving corporate and institutional clients. Sage also has offices in San Francisco, Seattle and Boise, Idaho.


Thomas E. Romesser, vice president of technology development at Northrop Grumman Corp.’s space technology sector, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Romesser helped develop laser technology for U.S. missile defense systems and palladium-103, an isotope used in prostate cancer treatment.

TM Systems, developer of integrated language translation, dubbing and subtitling systems, has named Gonzalo Marquez chief financial officer. Prior to joining TM Systems, he was a principal of Banc of America Equity Partners, where he led acquisitions of private companies in the healthcare, information technology, retail, media and entertainment sectors.

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