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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 Vaughn

POSITION:General manager, Performance Acura, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Josh Vaughn has a recipe for success at Performance Acura in Chapel Hill, N.C., and it includes chili, grilled chicken and sometimes a whole lot of ribs.

Since taking over as general manager in October 2011, he's made a regular practice of cooking for his staff, usually three or four times a month.

"I love to cook, and I'll do breakfast or lunch on a Saturday when we're busy," he said. "It's a great way to show your sincerity and build trust."

Building a cohesive team has been a focus for him in the nearly four years he has run the store, which is part of Hendrick Automotive Group. In the past, it suffered from high staff turnover and low morale.

Instead of cleaning house on arrival, Vaughn says he tried to identify what each employee was really good at and how to turn those strengths into a service for customers.

"The way you treat your team is the way they will treat your clients," explained Vaughn, a self-described car nut who first subscribed to Road & Track when he was 7 years old and spent his youth memorizing horsepower, engine displacement and other facts on just about every car on the road. "You want to create an atmosphere that makes people want to come back," he added.

He also started cooking up enough white-bean chili and crunchy French bread to feed 30 to 35 staffers at a time. Among his other specialties: grilled chicken with arugula salad, and barbecued ribs -- about 12 feet of them.

Between his arrival and the end of 2014, the store's vehicle sales nearly tripled; gross profit in fixed operations increased almost fivefold.

Not surprisingly, turnover has decreased significantly. In fact, in both 2013 and 2014, Performance Acura was chosen as one of Automotive News' Best Dealerships To Work For.



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