Steven Myers is a problem solver. That's how his boss, Frank Diantonio, the finance director at Orange Motors in Albany, N.Y., describes him.
"He's the one who gets things cookin' in the dealership," Diantonio says.
Since Myers became senior finance manager in 2006, he has helped boost Orange Motors' monthly finance and insurance profits from an average of about $75,000 to about $135,000. He has done that by promoting teamwork between finance managers and salespeople so that consumers are pitched the F&I products they are most likely to buy.
Myers' ability to solve problems is the result of having had plenty of his own.
"I had a very rough life," Myers says. "I was kicked out of high school when I was younger. I just couldn't find my way in life."
In 2001, at age 27, Myers was homeless. Yet he had the audacity to walk into Lia Hyundai in Albany, N.Y., seeking a job.
"I was well-presented and they gave me a shot," Myers says. "Once he gave me the opportunity, I wasn't going to let it go. I dedicated myself to reading and learning."
In 2005, Myers landed at Orange Motors, which sells Ford and Mazda vehicles, as a secondary finance manager.
His big break came a year later when the senior finance manager quit in the middle of a sale, leaving Myers alone to process about 100 vehicle deals.
"Rather than panic, I called about six banks. I said, 'The first one in here gets the deals.' So they came in and took turns processing the loans," Myers said. "We didn't lose any deals. We ended up making more money on that weekend than we did the whole month."
Management noticed and promoted Myers to his current position.
Since then, he has built F&I profits and tightened relationships between his finance staff and salespeople.
"Finance managers are negative by nature, because our job is to find problems," Myers says. "I teach our finance managers: Don't be negative. Don't shoot a salesman down. Encourage him so he can go out and sell another car."
Those are skills he learned volunteering at his church, he says.
"When you're leading volunteers, they don't have to follow you," Myers says. "People will do what you want as a dictator when you're there, but if you inspire their loyalty, they'll do what you want when you're not there."
-- Jamie LaReau