To cope with shrinking new-vehicle margins, AutoNation five years ago began to use the AutoNation name on all of its new-vehicle stores except those that sell luxury cars. In 2016, Jackson built on that brand recognition with a brand-extension strategy that included AutoNation-branded auctions, used-car outlets and collision centers, and branded parts, accessories, and finance and insurance products.
AutoNation began as a used-car retailer, but branched into new-vehicle sales before Jackson arrived. His brand-extension strategy therefore is taking the company back into used cars, as well as other businesses.
As dealerships battle a new-vehicle sales decline and tightening margins, many have become dependent on manufacturers' stair-step incentive programs.
"That's why we innovated in other areas," he told Automotive News last year. "I really believe that we have reached the point where scale and brand in auto retail is a significant competitive advantage."
Under Jackson's leadership, AutoNation also aimed its charitable contributions toward breast cancer research, a campaign the company has named Drive Pink.
"Without a brand umbrella, I'm not sure we could have done all that from coast to coast and unified 27,000 employees around this singular effort," Jackson, 69, said. AutoNation has generated more than $12 million for cancer research centers.
Before taking the helm of the Fort Lauderdale dealership group, Jackson was president of Mercedes-Benz USA. He was also named chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in January.