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.
40 Under 40 Video
|POSITION:||General manager, Yark Toyota-Scion, Toledo, Ohio|
Ross Lundquist is intensely curious and hypercompetitive.
The lanky, boyish 36-year-old has used those qualities to build a successful 13-year career at Yark Automotive Group, where he's general manager of a Toyota dealership that the seven-store group recently acquired.
"I'm a very competitive person," Lundquist says. "I grew up playing sports, wanting to win, wanting to win academically, wanting to be successful. You have those high expectations that we put on ourselves, and that the manufacturers put on us, too.
"I treat it like a game, have fun with it," he added. "You want to win the game, and our game is played every month."
Lundquist joined Yark in 2002 as a finance and insurance manager. He was recruited from the University of Michigan, where he majored in communications.
"I never thought in a million years that I'd be working at a car dealership, but it was interesting," he said. "I really enjoyed it right away, and I saw a lot of potential -- if I was good."
That's where his natural curiosity took over. Lundquist said he peppered his supervisors with questions about their jobs, as well as his own. He learned the car business and the finance business at the same time. A year and a half later, he moved from the consumer end of F&I to the back end, spending his days dealing with banks to get loans approved as Yark's F&I director.
"Anybody can agree to buy a car, but if they can't get financed, they can't buy a car," Lundquist said. He developed a reputation as a problem solver and that helped him to become general sales manager for the entire group 18 months later.
Overseeing sales operations for six dealerships, "you always had a new challenge. You always have a new environment," Lundquist said.
"I had 60 salespeople reporting to me, and I enjoyed that," he said. "The hours are long, but you never look at the clock, and the days fly by."
Sales at Yark have grown 55 percent since the 2008-09 recession and F&I income has almost doubled. That's impressive, but Lundquist's biggest challenge is ahead. In May, he was named general manager of the new Toyota store in suburban Toledo. He now has to learn service and parts and find a way to raise Toyota from its standing as the No. 6 automaker in the Toledo area.
"Toledo is an extremely odd market for Toyota," he said. "Toyota doesn't outsell Honda here," or Kia or Hyundai. "It's very underperforming in the market. And when you get a brand like Toyota that's underperforming in a market, that's a major opportunity, and that's exciting."