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Steve Mudd

AGE:34
POSITION:General manager, Montgomery Chevrolet, Louisville, Ky.
ACHIEVEMENT: Boosted new- and used-vehicle sales since becoming general manager in July 2015, driving total net profit to $470,000 in the last half of that year, up from just $7,000 in the first half

Steve Mudd has climbed the dealership ladder, working every position on the sales side.

But taking new employees under his wing and teaching them the car business is what he considers his biggest achievement.

At Montgomery Chevrolet in Louisville, Ky., Mudd has turned things around since becoming general manager in July 2015.

Before the move, the dealership was selling about 25 or 30 new vehicles per month. The dealership had just 10 to 15 employees. Mudd knew that wouldn't be enough to grow sales.

Now, the store averages 130 new sales a month with about 60 employees.

The dealership's total net profit for the first six months of 2015 was $7,000. That soared to $470,000 in the last six months of the year.

Used-car sales also have increased since Mudd became GM. The dealership sells 65 used vehicles per month, up from just 19 before.

"I didn't think we would conquer what we've done so fast," said Mudd.

Mudd said the store was able to grow its staff by recruiting from shoe stores and restaurants and utilizing a flexible schedule in sales. Word-of-mouth about the dealership's success also brings interest.

He credits a culture change for the growing sales numbers. As he hired more staff, Mudd emphasized teamwork at the dealership, so much so that there are "locker room" meetings. Managers are often referred to as coaches.

The dealership also has implemented the Disney Approach from the Disney Institute.

For example, instead of pointing customers to their destination, Mudd or his staffers will walk customers to where they need to be for a "personal handoff." When customers walk into the store, they're greeted by everyone.

A self-described geek when it comes to the car business, Mudd said he spends time throughout the day on social media, looking for new ways to build business.

Used vehicles are advertised on digital platforms only, such as Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus, Craigslist, local sites, Facebook and even Instagram.

The dealership also relies on such technology tools as vAuto for pricing and AuctionGenius for buying. "The market is very competitive online, so pricing and how you market the used car is now very critical," he said.

Mudd's dad, who was not in the industry, told him he'd be good at selling cars and that he ought to try it. That was 12 years ago. Mudd decided to give it a shot.

Mudd said he's a competitive person. That helps him thrive in auto retailing. "The car business is a forever-changing business to be in," he said. "It changes daily."

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