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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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Paul Zimmermann

AGE:39
POSITION:General sales manager, George Matick Chevrolet, Redford Township, Mich.

On June 2, 2009, George Matick Chevrolet, along with hundreds of other dealerships, got a letter from General Motors revoking the dealership's franchise agreement and halting its supply of new vehicles.

Paul Zimmermann, the dealership's general sales manager, knew that GM had made a horrible mistake. To prove it, he crafted a plan to buy new cars and trucks from all over the country -- truckloads of excess inventory that other Chevy dealers didn't want.

Sometimes, that meant accepting a package deal that included less-desirable cars. Five Aveo subcompacts equipped with manual transmissions to get five highly coveted Equinox crossovers? So be it. Gotta take Cobalts to get Silverados? Deal.

All told, the dealership got just three new 2010 model-year vehicles directly from GM but retailed 751. Its sales rose despite the factory having turned off the pipeline. In 2010, it sold 875 new and 677 used vehicles, up from 643 new and 569 used a year earlier.

"By every single metric that GM testified to in front of Congress, in terms of how they determined which dealerships they were going to shut down, we exceeded the level of expectation on what they deemed to be satisfactory," recalls Zimmermann.

"People will often say, 'Then why did you get a letter?' A, I don't know, and B, it was a stressful time for a lot of people. A lot of decisions were made under duress, and not every decision was correct."

The dealership was fully reinstated in May 2012. Having survived, it then thrived. In 2014, it sold 2,436 new and 1,127 used vehicles.

A current focus for Zimmermann is Corvette sales. The store will deliver 'Vettes all over the country. As part of its ongoing marketing campaign, the dealership participates in local Corvette clubs' parades, dinners and other events.

On May 30, the dealership hosted breakfast for about 110 Corvette owners who then joined a police-escorted "Corvette Caravan" to the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix.

In 2014, Matick Chevrolet sold 88 new Corvettes, making it No. 41 among U.S. Chevy dealerships in new Corvette sales, Zimmermann said. He wants to double that this year and move into the top 20.

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