Born in Warren, Mich., Jon Oeltjen has a family history that is shared with many from the area.
"My grandma retired from GM and my grandpa from Ford, and that's always been a part of me -- the Big 3 in Detroit," Oeltjen said.
He moved four hours north to Alpena in third grade, then south to Lansing at age 19, but he kept close to the General Motors line and started working at a Buick-GMC dealership in Lansing.
There, he met a general sales manager who became a mentor, but after two years, the man returned to Texas to work for Patterson Auto Group. Two years later, Oeltjen's former colleague asked him to come to Texas as the group's GM store sales manager.
Oeltjen started as the GMC-Buick-Pontiac-Cadillac sales manager in 2007. In a year and a half, his team swung the struggling department's net profit $400,000 into the black. In 2011, as the new-car director for the group, he tacked Hyundais onto his list. His team also returned that sales department to a positive net profit of $200,000. Within two years of being promoted to general sales manger in 2012, he tripled the net profit of the group's used-car department. He later added Mercedes-Benz and BMW new and used operations to his plate.
"Believe me, I wasn't some brainiac sales manager, but early on I recognized a couple things," Oeltjen said.
One of the most important, he said, was having a "quick-turn mindset" by aggressively pricing and growing inventory to meet market demands. His sales departments needed a price that would get customers through the door and the right people on the floor so those customers would leave with a new vehicle, which leads to another important piece of Oeltjen's vehicle-turning equation: the employees.
"I have some really good people that work with me," he said, "and I'm not pulling on this rope by myself."