Potamkin Cos. has hired the former chief operating officer of New York-based dealer chain United Auto Group.
Joseph Herman, 54, who left UAG in April 1995 before it went public, was hired by Potamkin June 9 to establish central financial reporting procedures and to help the Miami-based dealership company acquire dealerships.
'A public stock offering is not even on the radar screen,' said Herman, whose automotive career spans 34 years. 'We are still going to be a significant consolidator. We're doing centralized financial reporting because it's the right thing to do.'
Potamkin, with more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue, has 48 franchises at 15 locations in four areas - South Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York City. The company sold 38,379 new retail vehicles in 1996, ranking fourth on the Automotive News list of the top 100 dealer groups in the United States.
The Potamkin family opened its first dealership in Philadelphia in 1946. The chain's rapid expansion started after brothers Robert, 51, and Alan, 49, took over the business from their father, Victor, in 1970.
'We hit $1 billion in sales around 1989 or 1990 and got stuck there,' said Robert Potamkin, co-chairman of the company. 'We want to expand.'
Potamkin has no specific growth targets. It will look for metropolitan stores with strong managers that sell a minimum of 1,800 new and used vehicles per year. The chain intends to expand more slowly than the large, public dealer groups to better assimilate new stores and have the right managers in place, said Potamkin. Although it is open to expansion beyond the East Coast, the company is likely to stay close to home, he said.
Herman's position - chief operating officer - is new to the Potamkin chain. The company has had a decentralized management team, with strong general managers who own a stake in their stores. The chain will remain decentralized, with an executive staff of no more than 10 people, said Herman.
His top priorities include establishing a computer network for all the Potamkin stores that enables the central office to compile reports and provide results to general managers; renegotiating agreements with finance companies and warranty administrators; combining purchasing power of all the stores; and establishing operating standards for the company.
Herman is also considering a brand marketing campaign to enhance the Potamkin name.