Finbarr O'Neill, the new CEO at Reynolds and Reynolds Co. (), will be the first to admit he's not a tech guy. His strength, he says, is that he understands the needs of auto dealers. That's an asset he'll need while running one of the nation's largest dealership software providers, with sales of $982.2 million in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
O'Neill, former CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., took over at Reynolds on Jan. 17.
Before O'Neill went to Mitsubishi (), he was the head of Hyundai Motor America (). O'Neill discussed his new job with Editor David Sedgwick and Staff Reporter Ralph Kisiel.
Your background is in running auto companies, not dealership technology. What effect will that have?
I'm still not as familiar with the technical issues as I'd like to be. There will be a learning curve associated with that. I think what I bring to the company is not technical capabilities; it's a passion for the dealers and what we can do to help dealers sell cars and take care of customers.
Is it more difficult to compare dealer-management systems and applications than features on a car?
It is in some ways, especially if you get lost in the forest of technology. You must focus on the needs of the end user. You talk about the power of one platform, for example, the ability to migrate along as new applications are developed and the ability to do that without disruption of your entire business.
What is Reynolds' market share of the dealer system market?
We calculate our market share at 40 percent.
What have you been telling dealers?
I want the message to be, "We care; dealers first."
Over the next six months I will travel extensively and meet with dealers. Dealers ultimately want simplicity.
I asked them, "What can we do to make you happy?"
The answer is: "Make it easier for my people. I want my people to be efficient, and I want it to be easy for my customers."