Robert Thomas is Executive Vice President for Strategic Marketing of Republic Industries. He is the former president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A. (NMC), the U.S. sales, marketing, service and distribution arm of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Mr. Thomas participated in the effort to establish The Nissan Foundation in 1992 and serves as chairman. The Foundation, created in the aftermath of the civil unrest in South Central Los Angeles, issues grants stemming from a $5 million endowment to support community agencies in South Central Los Angeles. The Foundation's goal is to improve the social and economic quality of life in South Central by building partnerships with service groups and organizations already working in the area to promote economic development, job creation and community-building activities. In addition, Mr. Thomas is chairman and president of the California Automotive Industry Alliance and a member of the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America-Los Angeles Area Council.
Before assuming the position of NMC president, Mr. Thomas was vice president of corporate strategy for two years. He was vice president and general manger of Nissan Division between May 1988 and September 1991. Mr. Thomas joined Nissan in 1982. Prior to that, he spent seven years with Ford Motor Company, during a period of industry change, when the Detroit auto manufacturers had to face the new product challenges of the Japanese imports. Before that he worked at Allstate Insurance Company for two years.
Born in Hyannis, Nebraska, Mr. Thomas was raised in cattle country, and worked summers on a ranch. While in high school in North Platte, NE., Mr. 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.
After graduation, Mr. Thomas served in the United States Air Force for four years at the Space and Missile System Organization in the Los Angeles area, where he was the financial manager for a program office handling a Restricted Data defense system. Mr. Thomas is married and has two children.