Not only have Mike Jackson and Michael Maroone made AutoNation Inc. the biggest auto dealership group, they have made it one of the most innovative and influential as well.
As CEO of the public retailer for the past decade, Jackson, now 60, has taken on the Detroit 3, backed a federal gasoline-tax increase and publicly scolded automakers' captive finance companies for cutting off consumer credit.
As AutoNation's COO, Maroone helped pioneer online car and truck shopping by listing vehicles at the company's dealerships on the Internet as early as 2002. Maroone, now 55, also has worked to create greater transparency in dealership sales and finance transactions.
AutoNation now boasts $15 billion in annual revenue, 210 dealerships in 15 states and 17,000 employees. The company says it sells more vehicles online than any other auto retailer. And AutoNation has become a powerful voice for all U.S. dealers, championing their concerns in Washington and Detroit.
In 2006, Jackson accused the Detroit 3 of building too many vehicles and loading them with high sales incentives. Those practices were causing residual values to plunge and inventories to bulge uncontrollably, Jackson warned. His analysis appeared prescient when General Motors and Chrysler sought a federal bailout and then filed for bankruptcy protection this year.