Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described when Mike Maroone joined the board of directors of TrueCar.com
Mike Maroone, a key architect of AutoNation Inc.'s retail blueprint, will retire after 15 years as president and COO, with chairman and CEO Mike Jackson taking on the additional role of president, effective Feb. 4, 2015.
Jackson, 65, has also signed a contract that will extend his employment with the company through at least 2019, the nation’s largest automotive retailer said in a statement.
Jackson has been CEO of AutoNation since 1999 and added the title of chairman in 2002.
AutoNation spokesman Marc Cannon said Thursday that Jackson intends to stay at the retail giant indefinitely and referenced Jackson’s usual retort to questions about his retirement: Jackson says he wants to work as long as Penske Automotive Group Inc. Chairman and CEO Roger Penske, who will turn 78 next month.
“Whatever Roger’s in for, I’m in for,” Jackson has said.
Maroone, 61, will remain president, COO and an AutoNation director until Feb. 3. He will then take on a transitional role until he retires on April 1, the company said. Maroone wasn’t available for comment after the announcement was made late Thursday.
In July 2013, Maroone signed a new employment contract with AutoNation that ran through December 2016. Jackson signed a new three-year contract at the same time.
Bill Berman, 48, senior vice president of sales for AutoNation, will become executive vice president and COO, effective Feb. 4. Berman had served as president of the company's western region since 2008, and previously as AutoNation's Northern California market and as a general manager.
AutoNation leaders have been grooming Berman for the transition to COO. He moved to south Florida this past fall to take over the national sales leader post at the Fort Lauderdale-based company.
At the time Maroone signed his current contract in 2013, AutoNation was working on succession planning, with Maroone mentoring Berman, spokesman Cannon said.
Under the company's standard three-year contract, senior executives had time to make sure Berman was prepared for the COO role.
"If he was ready and Mike was ready, Mike could leave earlier," Cannon said. "It was all Mike Maroone’s decision on when he wanted to leave and when he determined Berman was ready."
John Murphy, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst, said in a research report that the partial changing of the guard doesn’t change his positive outlook for AutoNation. Berman is a logical fit for the COO role, Murphy said.
“If investors are at all skittish about Maroone's departure, their concerns about management shake-up should be quelled by AutoNation's announcement that Mike Jackson will take on an expanded role for at least the next five years,” Murphy wrote. “Jackson's commitment to the company through at least 2019 is encouraging, in our view, and demonstrates that Jackson intends to see his stated strategies for the company through to completion.”