Vic Doolan brings a hard-nosed image to the Premier Automotive Group, made up of Lincoln, Volvo, Jaguar and Aston Martin.
Doolan quit BMW AG last week after a stellar six years as president of BMW of North America Inc., and 22 years at BMW. He joined Premier Automotive Group as executive director of North American marketing and distribution strategy.
'Ford has scored a significant coup,' said Frank Ursomarso, who owns Union Park BMW in Wilmington, Del.
Even people who have had their differences with him say Doolan is tough, but fair.
'Vic Doolan is one of the strongest and best leaders I've ever worked with, and I say that from the heart,' said Jim Mullen, president of Mullen Advertising in Wenham, Mass. Doolan hired the agency in 1993, when he was executive vice president of sales and marketing. As president, he fired the agency two years later.
Some of Doolan's accomplishments at BMW:
Big volume increase: Along with other European cars, BMW's U.S. sales sank in the early 1990s, to 53,343 in 1991. Doolan took over in 1993, when sales rebounded to 78,010. BMW sales last year soared to 131,559.
Stronger brand image: Calling BMW a 'Yuppie' brand sets Doolan's teeth on edge. He countered that 'trendy' image by giving people solid reasons to buy, besides performance - such as safety and a lower cost of ownership.
More exclusives: More than 80 percent of BMW's U.S. volume is sold through 'customer-exclusive' dealerships, vs. under 60 percent in the early 1990s. BMW says 273 out of 337 stores are customer-exclusive, including some that share back-shop functions.
Of the four Premier brands, Lincoln has a long way to go toward the European luxury ideal of exclusive dealerships. Lincoln Mercury is trying to adopt dealership operating standards, or else dealers may lose future products.
Last week, Doolan diplomatically downplayed his role. But working with Lincoln Mercury President Mark Hutchins, Doolan is just the executive to see that the standards are enforced.