Steven Berrard, the man who took the Blockbuster video chain from 19 stores to 4,500, has been named president of the fledgling AutoNation USA used-car chain.
Berrard, a former accountant with no experience in the auto industry, said in a statement that AutoNation will 'revolutionize this highly fragmented, $225-billion' used-car industry.
'Our plans to establish AutoNation USA as a national brand will make us a leader in the automobile industry,' Berrard claimed.
Berrard, 41, had been president and chief executive officer of Blockbuster Entertainment Group, a division of Viacom Inc. He will also be chief executive officer of AutoNation.
Berrard is a protege of Florida entrepreneur and AutoNation founder H. Wayne Huizenga. Berrard is also a principal investor in the venture, along with Toyota wholesaler Jim Moran.
AutoNation has not opened any used-car lots. It plans to open six this year, with vehicles to be sold on a no-dicker basis. The company has 80 employees at its Fort Lauderdale, Fla., headquarters.
Berrard has worked for Huizenga in various capacities for 15 years. According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, he once cleaned portable toilets for Huizenga as an apprentice.
As an auditor with Coopers & Lybrand, he handled Huizenga's account. He also played an active role in selling Huizenga's Blockbuster chain to Viacom in 1994 for $8 billion. Even at that price, some Wall Street observers believed at the time that the chain sold for too little.
Earlier this year, Berrard was rumored to be a candidate for the chief executive post at Viacom. But Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone added that title to his own.
AutoNation denied requests for an interview with Berrard.