Lithia fires retail senior vice president

A top Lithia Motors corporate manager is leaving the company.

Don H. Jones Jr., senior vice president of retail operations, was fired over the weekend after an apparent falling out with one or more members of the DeBoer family, which holds controlling interest in the Medford-based auto retailer.

Jones confirmed his dismissal today, although his termination date appeared unclear.

"Right now, I'm just trying to relax," he said. "I still have a couple of days left, but as far as the direction and vision of the company and how it might look after that, I'm not sure. I do want people to know I wouldn't trade (the time) and experiences I've had here for anything. I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed the people and what we did together."

Jones is the highest-ranking member of the auto retailer's management team to depart the company since it became publicly traded in 1997. Jones joined Lithia in 1989 as general sales manager. He later held posts of general manager, executive manager and regional manager. In 1997, he was named vice president of operations and in March 2000 attained his senior vice president's role.

Lithia Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sid DeBoer declined comment, citing Securities and Exchange Commission requirements concerning the departure of company officers and top executives.

"I'm not going to comment on employee issues, and an 8K-filing would be the earliest we would have any public comment," DeBoer said.

During 2006, the most recent year data is available, Jones' base salary was $560,000 and he received another $396,300 in long-term compensation.

An SEC filing is required within 72 hours of termination.

— Greg Stiles

More details: Wednesday's Mail Tribune

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