The nation's fourth-largest dealership group set records for profits, revenues and stock price this year. CEO Earl Hesterberg, 59, has been among the most aggressive of the public retailers in acquiring new stores. Through October, Group 1 added 14 franchises expected to add $580 million in annual revenue.
But it's not just Group 1's accomplishments that elevate Hesterberg. He spoke up for all dealers on several issues. He blasted stair-step programs as a "cancer" in the industry and was cited in National Automobile Dealers Association advertising ripping manufacturers for the incentives. He also criticized incentives paired with manufacturer facility standards and protested the regulatory hurdles confronting dealers. Perhaps most notably, Hesterberg spoke up early during the TrueCar.com controversy. He dumped the service at Group 1 saying the business model then used by the lead generator hurt dealers.