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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|POSITION:||Collision center manager, Faulkner BMW, Lancaster, Pa.|
When April Lausch took over management of Faulkner BMW's collision center in 2012, the operation was struggling. The shop was losing money, and the previous manager had been fired.
Lausch had worked at the Lancaster, Pa., center for two years as an estimator and knew where she had to build in discipline.
"Productivity was awful," she said. "Nobody listened anymore; everyone took three-hour breaks."
Lausch let some people go and hired replacements with a better work ethic. In the last three years, about 10 of the center's 20 staffers have turned over, some voluntarily.
The business rebounded swiftly, Lausch said, making money the first month after she became manager. In the last three years, the collision center's sales have jumped 20 percent with a reduction in overall expenses. Lausch recently received BMW's Outstanding Performance Award for her achievements in improving the BMW-certified collision center.
Getting certification in 2014 was another accomplishment Lausch pushed through. Dealership managers long had wanted to get the collision center certified, which can be a long and challenging road. Lausch started the process. It took 16 months; a lot of training; the implementation of new procedures to make sure cars were being repaired correctly and to BMW's specifications; and investment in new equipment, such as a second paint line.
Lausch didn't set out to be in the automotive industry. She started as a body shop secretary while going to college for accounting.
"It's very challenging to me to be a high-powered female in a male-dominated industry," Lausch said. "I was brought into this industry by accident, but to stick with it, it's very rewarding to me to know that these cars are fixed right and that people are putting their families into them."
For example, in March, as part of the Recycled Rides program, the collision center repaired a Hyundai Sonata donated by GEICO insurance company and gave it to a single mother who needed reliable transportation to get to work.
On top of the accolades she's received since taking over the body shop, Lausch also gets a kick out of a question from her husband: "When my husband asks me why his check engine light is on, I think that's awesome."