Automotive News 40 Under 40

Massad Saeed

AGE: 30

POSITION: General sales manager, Elk Grove Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram, Elk Grove, Calif.

Massad Saeed

Massad Saeed's career in auto sales began with a lie.

Not to customers or anyone he worked for, but to his mother.

Saeed told her he was going to college, when he was actually working at the local Dodge dealership. He started while attending night school at age 17, hired for what was supposed to be a short-term job by a manager who owed a favor to his uncle.

He was hooked as soon as he saw his paychecks go from about $80 at a part-time job pitching credit cards for Montgomery Ward to more than $2,000 for a couple of weeks of selling cars. But Saeed couldn't bring himself to come clean to his mother until he had become well established at the dealership.

"I definitely broke her heart," he says. "But she's OK with it now."

Saeed became the store's general sales manager in November 2010, after about 10 years there. Since he took that job sales have nearly doubled, from about 60 new and 60 used vehicles a month to 150 new and 80 used today.

"He spends his whole day here, will do anything to make the store go," says Joe Meneghetti, a sales manager who works for Saeed. "This is one guy you don't even look at his age because he is that good at his job. The kid is a great leader with a super hard work ethic. ... He's got the whole store behind him, for sure."

Saeed helps lead daily walk-arounds on the lot to ensure staff is familiar with the inventory and mandatory meetings at the start of each shift aimed at improving productivity. Meetings might include discussion of specific vehicles or role-playing exercises if any employees found themselves in a situation for which they had felt unprepared the day before.

"I don't think I could do anything else, but I totally stumbled into it," Saeed says. "I'm pretty simple: I come to work, I love my job, and go home."

-- Nick Bunkley