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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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Michael Weinert

POSITION:General manager/ managing partner, Garber Buick-GMC of Fort Pierce (Fla.)

For a chance to run his own store, Michael Weinert left a high-volume central Michigan Chevrolet dealership last year and landed in a dry, dusty, hot gravel lot with mobile homes serving as temporary offices.

Garber Buick-GMC has been under construction for the duration of Weinert's tenure as general manager. But sales have not just held steady, they've started to grow despite the inconvenience of operating a retail business in the middle of a construction project.

When he arrived at the store, a new purchase for Garber Automotive Group, which operates 14 stores in Michigan, Florida, New York and Illinois, it was losing between $50,000 and $75,000 per month. It was selling between 20 and 30 new and used vehicles per month.

By early 2015, those losses were in the rearview mirror. And sales were up to 40 new and used per month, putting Weinert on the right path to reach his goal of 100 new and used per month once the store's new showroom is open this summer.

One key to that success is Weinert's management style. He lets his managers do their jobs with minimal interference. He has boosted communication among the store's 30 full-time employees. And he's quick with a compliment -- delivered publicly -- when it's warranted. The strategy has improved the store's customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction ratings. 

"If you have happy employees, you'll have happy customers. You will sell more product, service more vehicles and make more money," he says. 

Weinert spends time talking to his employees and customers to make sure they are happy. 

"If I hear anything good, such as a compliment from a customer, it's praise in public," he says. "I have a daily email that goes out, a daily update email. Sometimes, it's only a few sentences long. But anything good and positive that I hear about, the whole dealership knows about."




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