Automotive News 40 Under 40

Rahim Hassanally

AGE: 34

POSITION: Dealer principal, Momentum Auto Group, Fairfield, Calif.

 
Rahim Hassanally

Rahim Hassanally's parents owned several hotels in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area, so getting into the hospitality industry would have been easy for him. But "at a very young age I figured out that wasn't my cup of tea," he says.
So at age 16 he jumped at the chance to take classes from 8 a.m. until noon and sell new cars in the afternoon at Colonial Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep in Dallas under his high school co-op, work-study program.
After 60 days on the job and coaching from a mentor at the dealership, the high school sophomore was selling 25 to 30 vehicles a month. By the time he was 24, he had worked at three local dealerships, risen to general sales manager and earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
In 2006, at age 28, Hassanally bought his first dealership, which houses Infiniti of Fairfield and Volvo of Fairfield, in Fairfield, Calif. He now operates 16 franchises, which employ more than 250 people and generated $300 million in revenues in 2012.
"I saved my money, looked at a lot of different stores and found this store within my budget," says Hassanally, 34. "I'm a very driven person. I have goals. I set my mind to them and don't let up."
Hassanally says he initially wanted to become a lawyer and was accepted into law school but passed it up to pursue a career in automotive retailing.
Early in his career, he learned the importance of making sure that the customer is always happy and keeping expenses in line.
He runs his business on a percentage metric, devoting certain percentages of his budget to areas such as advertising, salesperson compensation, supervision compensation and data processing.
That means that he spends less when revenues are down and retains more net profit when revenues are up. He says the lessons served him well during the recession.
"It made me a much stronger dealer," Hassanally says of the economic downturn. "If you can survive what we just went through in the last few years, what can you not make it through?"
-- Arlena Sawyers