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Auto retailing thrives on new. New vehicles. New marketing methods and advertising campaigns. And new blood. Meet the men and women who make up the fourth annual Automotive News listing of 40 Under 40 Retail: 40 up-and-comers who already are making their mark in dealerships. These individuals are applying the lessons of the past with the techniques of today to carry vehicle retailing into the future. And they're delivering astounding results.

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Automotive News 40 Under 40

Sean Fortier

POSITION:General manager, Mercedes-Benz of Calabasas (Calif.)

Sean Fortier learned early that winning was the only thing.

"I'm competitive," said Fortier. "Dating back to having four brothers and a sister in a military family and playing sports since I was 4 years old, I don't like to lose."

He credits much of his business success to that drive to win.

Fortier joined the U.S. Air Force in 1997. He served four years as a firefighter there, but when he left, he didn't want to wait several months for a civilian firefighter job, so he started selling cars at a Dallas-area Nissan dealership.

In two weeks, "I sold 26 cars, and I got salesman of the month," he said. "I was very aggressive."

Within 10 months, he was promoted to the finance and insurance office. But after two years there, Fortier went into the home mortgage business. When the housing market collapsed in 2007, he returned to the auto industry, doing finance at a Lexus dealership in Houston.

"I did very well for myself" in the mortgage business, he said, "but I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as I do the car business."

Fortier moved to California in 2011 to head Mercedes-Benz of Calabasas, owned by Sonic Automotive Inc. Since doing so, business across all lines of the dealership has skyrocketed. Unit sales, new and used, now average 250 a month, vs. 140 before 2011. Average F&I revenue per unit rose to $1,300 from $800. Service and parts gross profit rose about 25 percent.

"The market's only a piece of it," he said. "There are 50 different things that have to be done right."

His biggest personal goal is to inspire others.

"During my short career, I have seen quite a few people grow exponentially in their career," Fortier said. "They still call me to bounce stuff off of me even though they don't work here anymore."



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