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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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Josh Aaronson

POSITION:Dealer principal owner, Island Auto Group

Josh Aaronson, owner of Island Auto Group of Yonkers, N.Y., gives all of his dealership general managers the opportunity to buy a stake in their stores. On average, each owns 20 percent.

"That sense of ownership and responsibility is the best tool for turning an average dealership into an extraordinary one," Aaronson said.

His strategy has paid off.

When he acquired Rockland Hyundai in Nanuet, N.Y., three years ago, it was moving about 360 new vehicles annually. That rose to nearly 1,500 last year.

When he teamed with Marcello Sciarrino, now his partner (Aaronson's term for his general managers) at Route 1 Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Lawrenceville, N.J., a year ago, the store's performance went from the bottom 10 percent of stores selling those brands in the region to the top five percent.

Aaronson prefers to acquire dealerships in emerging markets and lets his new managers keep about 80 percent of the original staff.

"When you let the manager take ownership and run things the way they always wanted, things start to take off," Aaronson said. "Now they're some of the top stores in the region."

Island Auto Group began five years ago when Aaronson bought Yonkers Kia, the only store which he still owns 100 percent. Aaronson's first partners in Island Auto Group were his father- and uncle-in-law.

Island Auto Group is poised to become a 20-store goliath. On top of the 11 new- and used-car stores that Aaronson has picked up since 2010, the company is about to close on a nine-franchise deal. "It all came down to the people I partnered with," Aaronson said. "I look for highly motivated people who are willing to take a risk."



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