Arnaldo Bomnin surrounds himself with people he knows well and who know him.
For example, the sales manager Bomnin reported to when he first started as a salesperson at a Nissan store in Miami in 1996 now is his Internet manager at Bomnin Chevrolet, also in Miami.
He and his new-car manager go way back, as well. Bomnin hired him to sell cars in 2001 when Bomnin was sales manager at a Miami Chevrolet dealership.
Bomnin met these people and others who are now managers at his dealership shortly after November 1996, when he started selling new vehicles at South Motors Nissan during the day and attending school at night to learn English. That was just five months after he immigrated to the U.S. from Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
The glue that bonds Bomnin and his managers trickles down and keeps his salespeople sticking around, too.
In 2014, he lost no salespeople. In 2015, he kept turnover to less than 6 percent. So far this year, he has had only one salesperson out of 37 leave the dealership.
That staffing stability, he says, is critical to the 30 to 40 percent of his business that he attributes to repeat customers and referrals. That repeat business, in turn, has helped him grow sales at an above-industry pace.
In 2015, Bomnin's new-vehicle sales grew 29 percent to 3,199. The store's used-vehicle sales climbed 8.2 percent to 2,034.
"I have five sales managers, five Internet managers and eight F&I managers, and most of them started selling cars with me," said Bomnin, 45, who holds a medical degree from the Medical University of Pinar del Rio.
"We have a very stable team. Our people don't leave, and that's key. That's part of the secret. When you have 60 percent turnover in the sales force, you'll never be able to grow your business," he said.
Bomnin and his former business partner acquired Kendall Chevrolet in November 2010, which they renamed Lorenzo-Bomnin Chevrolet. He bought out his partner's interest on May 1, 2015, and renamed the store Bomnin Chevrolet.
Through March, Bomnin's dealership was the sixth largest-volume Chevrolet dealership in the U.S., General Motors confirms. Bomnin says his tally through March was 970 new and 582 used vehicles.
His pay plan helps keep the sales staff grounded. He pays them a commission and an incentive based on customer satisfaction. But more importantly, he makes sure his employees get enough sales volume to earn enough "to take care of their families," he said.
His 36 salespeople each average about 15 vehicle sales per month, generating about 550 new- and used-vehicle sales. That volume ensures his salespeople make a good living, he said.
"The math is simple," he said. "If you flood the floor [with staff], and you have a salesperson for every 10 cars, they'll never be able to make a good living. They will struggle."
As a teen in Cuba, Bomnin wanted to become an architect. But his father wanted him to pursue a career as a doctor because of the prestige that would bring.
He was 24 and fresh out of medical school when he learned the Cuban government wanted him to become a military doctor. That's when he decided to head to Miami to pursue his medical career.
It took seven trips to the U.S. Embassy in pursuit of a U.S. visa and a year after that to convince the Cuban government to let him leave, but he arrived in Miami on June 19, 1996.
Bomnin made money however he could. He worked at a factory making boxes for avocados, had his own landscaping business and sold lobsters on the streets. He took English at Miami-Dade Community College at night.
In November 1996, his cousin's husband, who was general manager at South Motors Nissan, hired him as a salesman. His career took off.
From May 1999 through July 2000, Bomnin was the dealership's top salesperson, selling an average 27.4 vehicles per month.
In August 2000, he joined AutoNation Inc.'s Maroone Chevrolet of Miami as its sales manager and was its general sales manager in 2004-06. In 2007, he joined the company's Maroone Chevrolet of West Dade in Doral, Fla., as its general manager.
AutoNation has since renamed all of its stores with the AutoNation moniker.
Bomnin left AutoNation in 2009 to pursue his dream of owning a dealership.
When he and his business partner acquired the Chevy store, it sold just 76 new and used vehicles a month. By November 2013, the month the partners opened their new 39,000-square-foot facility, the dealership sold an average of 150 new and 140 used vehicles per month.
Bomnin said the retail auto business is in his blood now. He credits GM and AutoNation for giving him opportunities.
"AutoNation is a great company, and I am grateful for the time I worked for them," Bomnin said. "And GM's southeastern [region] helped me get my first [dealership] opportunity."