On his first day at the dealership several months after his father, Ray Green, a dealer since 1957, first came in to start the transition, Jeff Green, now 46, met with managers and assured them he wasn't going to make big changes.
"People don't function well if their job is at stake," he says. "Then I apologized to them by telling them that I need to run this dealership like a dictatorship for six months. The reason I gave is that I know what it takes to make a dealership profitable. I was very successful at that, and we needed to get to profitability immediately."
Now that he has put in place the management system he copied from his former dealership, he says he has changed his style.
"Now I don't operate the dealership as a dictator. I operate it like everybody is equal. We're all on the same level."
Green, who now is full owner of the Peoria store, was coming from a much smaller store in Danville, Ill., which employed 24 people, compared with 150 in Peoria. The Danville store had sales of $12 million a year, compared with 2002 sales of $75 million in Peoria.
He comes from a strong dealer family. His father, Ray Green, is former president of the National Automobile Dealers Association and the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association and has won many industry awards.
In addition to his own business degrees, Jeff Green says he has a Ph.D. - "Papa had a dealership." He credits his father with teaching him the family business. His two sisters and a brother have taken over and rejuvenated their own dealerships in other Illinois cities.