H. Wayne Huizenga wasn't the first to conceive of publicly owned auto dealerships, but his vision was grander than that of any of his rivals. That's why, more than any other individual, Huizenga will be remembered as the father of dealership consolidation.
Huizenga launched his AutoNation group of stores in 1996 with a flourish. The group, then known as AutoNation USA, featured huge lots with hundreds of late-model used cars. The signs were painted green, designed to look like the signs on U.S. interstate highways.
But Huizenga quickly realized he wouldn't transform the auto-retailing landscape with used cars alone. So he began acquiring new-car dealerships and built a company that is today still the largest public dealership group in America. He built his empire the same way he had built his earlier businesses: Waste Management Inc. and Blockbuster Video. In those businesses, he accumulated mom-and-pop operations until he became the dominant player.