It's business as usual for two of Sonic Automotive Inc.'s top executives promoted last week to lead the nation's fifth-largest retailer, as they reiterated commitments to grow the company's EchoPark brand of used-only stores.
The changes at Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., propel David Smith, a younger son of co-founder and Executive Chairman Bruton Smith, 91, into the CEO role and elevate Jeff Dyke to president. The moves follow the resignation last week of former CEO Scott Smith from the top spot after three years.
Scott Smith, 50, David Smith's brother who co-founded Sonic in 1997, will remain a Sonic employee despite resigning as CEO, president and member of the board.
David Smith, 44, said Sonic will keep moving forward on its growth strategy. He recalled starting in the dealership business at 12 or 13 washing cars at Town & Country Ford, the Charlotte store that has long housed his father's office. David Smith sold vehicles after he graduated high school and during college before joining Sonic in 1998.
"I had a lot of amazing guidance from my dad, a lot of great business lessons from him as far back as I can remember," David Smith told Automotive News. "There really hasn't been anything else. I love our company."
In March, David Smith was promoted to executive vice chairman and chief strategic officer. He has been a board director since October 2008 and has had a variety of roles with Sonic including senior vice president of corporate development and a dealer operator and general manager of company stores.
As the management team has worked together for years, it's "just business as usual," David Smith said.
The changes also give Dyke, 51, more responsibilities with the company he joined in October 2005. He had been executive vice president of operations since October 2008.
Dyke told Automotive News that Sonic had been grooming him to be president for several years and succession had been discussed more during the past few months.