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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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Tyler Heard

AGE:39
POSITION:Area vice president of Penske Automotive Group's Atlanta market

Tyler Heard once considered a career as a banker. But a family friend, the general manager of a Penske Automotive Group Inc. store in Arkansas, suggested he try selling cars.

So in 2000 Heard, then 24, joined the sales staff at Penske's Landers Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram store in Benton, Ark.

"I've always been interested in cars," said Heard. "The only thing I regret now is that I didn't start doing it sooner."

As his job performance improved, he was regularly promoted. Because Penske is a big company, with 244 U.S. dealerships today, there were plenty of opportunities to advance. Heard held various management jobs until he was named area vice president last year.

"For me, the progression was a byproduct of working for good managers and the culture of our company," Heard said. "We always look within the company for key candidates for certain jobs."

Since Heard became area vice president, the five stores he oversees have achieved significant growth in net profit and retail sales. He credits it to strong teamwork among the stores' 700 employees, intense focus on the management and measurement of daily sales, renewed focus on the customer experience and dedication to employee satisfaction.

Heard wants to pay it back now by helping other young workers grow into leaders. In February 2014, he started a training program for managers. About once a month, 45 managers from all departments in the stores meet over breakfast to view training videos and hear from other Penske professionals about best practices, he said.

But one sought-after speaker has yet to address the group: Chairman Roger Penske.

"I'd love to get him," said Heard. "But he's pretty busy." 

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