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:||General manager, Pfaff Porsche, Woodbridge, Ontario|
James Coats admits he was "the annoying kid," running around the BMW service bays in Toronto where his father worked.
Decades later, Coats, 36, is general manager of Pfaff Porsche in Woodbridge, Ontario. Before landing this job, Coats worked at two BMW dealerships in Canada from 2002 to 2005: He was a service adviser at BMW of Mississauga in a suburb of Toronto, and he was a service manager at Maranello BMW -- the store where his father worked. He also ran Lexus and Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
In 2005, at age 26, Coats became general manager of a Mercedes-Benz store in Ajax, Ontario, that had changed hands.
He describes it as a small dealership that sold 65 new vehicles a year. "We grew it," Coats said. "We were the fastest growing Mercedes-Benz dealership [in Canada] for four years until 2008."
In 2008, Mercedes-Benz Durham moved to a new location in Canada, where he worked until May 2011.
"I was an active sales manager; I was selling cars myself," Coats said. "We did everything we could do to install faith in the market by Mercedes-Benz."
In 2011, he became general manager of Lexus Downtown in Toronto, a new Lexus point in a new, 108,000-square-foot, six-story facility.
Two years later, he got an offer to join Pfaff Automotive Partners based in Woodbridge, with its 500-plus employees and two Audi, two McLaren, BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota and Porsche stores.
Coats was general manager of Pfaff Audi in Vaughan, where net profit grew from a 1 to 2 percent return to a 3.8 percent return in two years, he said.
Early this year, he moved to the same position at the Porsche store. "It is the biggest Porsche store in the country, and there are still opportunities," Coats said.
The store sells about 1,100 new and 400 pre-owned Porsches a year, he said. Coats said he'll do what he did at the Audi dealership: Focus on the people who didn't buy a car after coming to the store, following up with phone calls and email. "The business was there -- we weren't capturing it all. It's the same thing at Porsche now. It will take some time."
A key to growth is treating every day as if it's the last day of the month when salespeople scramble to meet a target, creating "a culture of urgency," Coats said. "This has really helped create a culture of performance, urgency, speed and transparency."