Jeff Lupient's big break came in 2007 when he was asked to run his family's money-losing Infiniti dealership near Minneapolis after the store's general manager quit.
The job was supposed to be temporary, but Lupient turned the dealership's fortunes around by cutting about $100,000 of fixed and semi-fixed costs. As a part of that, he cross-trained employees to do multiple jobs. For exam- ple, the store's service cashier now also oversees warranty repairs.
Lupient hired a new service manager to breathe some new life into the department. After losing customers to aftermarket oil change outlets, Lupient says he and his manager crafted a plan to win that business back. They drove a used car to "all the different oil-change places in town," he recalls, and "found out what they were doing and charging so we could be more competitive than they were."
Less than a year later, the dealership was in the black. But Jim Lupient, his father and the dealership's owner, was reluctant to make Jeff the store's permanent executive manager.
Until executives from Infiniti came calling, that is. At Infiniti's request, Jeff Lupient became the store's executive manager in 2008 at age 28, the youngest Infiniti dealership boss at that time, Lupient says.
Lupient says the Infiniti store averages about 50 new-vehicle sales every month. He also oversees a Nissan dealership in nearby Rochester, Minn., that he bought in late 2010 and co-owns a second Infiniti store in Kansas City, Mo. with his mother, Barbara.
And even though he started his automotive career as a lot boy at his father's Saturn dealership when he was 15, he never thought he'd make his living selling cars.
Lupient says: "I ended up falling in love with it."
-- Ryan Beene