Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz USA's president and CEO, speaks to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 20. (Photo John Ruch)
Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz USA’s president and CEO, speaks to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 20. (Photo John Ruch)

Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO Steve Cannon, who oversaw the automaker’s move to Sandy Springs, is leaving to head the company that owns the Atlanta Falcons and the new downtown football stadium, among other assets.

Cannon will start as CEO of AMB Group on Feb. 1, essentially replacing well-known Atlanta corporate leader Arthur M. Blank as the company day-to-day operator, according to a press release. Earlier this year, MBUSA bought the naming rights to the stadium Cannon will now oversee, a move he and Blank announced in a press conference.

Replacing Cannon at MBUSA is Dietmar Exler, who current serves as vice president of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA. Exler, a Brookhaven resident, will take over MBUSA on Jan. 1 and Cannon will act as a consultant through Jan. 31, according to a press release.

“This is a truly special opportunity for me to move from an iconic brand that I love to a role working with an iconic leader and the diversified Blank Family of Businesses,” said Cannon in an AMB press release. “I made an immediate connection with Arthur because we have very similar value systems and a shared vision for what the customer experience can and should be. I look forward to working closely with the leaders within AMB Group and across the individual businesses to drive growth and deliver even greater value to the fans, customers, partners and communities that we serve.”

“Dietmar’s appointment is central to reinforcing our strategy and our standards around the world, and will continue to strengthen the ties and collaboration within our marketing and sales network,” said Ola Kaellenius, a member of the board of management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales, in an MBUSA press release. “I would like to thank Steve for his leadership and contributions to our success story in the U.S., and wish him all the best in the future.”

MBUSA announced earlier this year that it will relocate it corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Sandy Springs. While that new facility is constructed off Abernathy Road, MBUSA is temporarily located in rented office space in Dunwoody.

In an October speech to the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce, Cannon praised MBUSA’s relocation as “transformative” for the company and said his family is in the process of moving to Buckhead, where Blank also lives. He also referenced MBUSA’s buying of the stadium naming rights, calling it a “pure opportunistic thing,” but also noting that the automaker is contributing to a local network of charities called Hands On Atlanta, which also gets major support from Blank’s family foundation.

Cannon has headed MBUSA since 2012. In his new job, he will oversee the Falcons; the new Atlanta United FC Major League Soccer team; Atlanta Falcons Stadium Company; PGA TOUR Superstore; and Mountain Sky Guest Ranch.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.