Julian Dragos, 30
Service operations director, Fred Beans Family of Dealerships
At a very young age, Julian Dragos knew he wanted to work at a car dealership.
"I was going to take any job I was being offered if I could work at a car dealership," he says.
He ended up working part-time for the Fred Beans Family of Dealerships starting at age 16, calling service customers to thank them and make sure they were satisfied. Fourteen years later, Dragos oversees the company's entire service operation.
"Most people my age and my generation, I think there's a sense of entitlement," he says. "They take a job somewhere and then they go to the next place and they're never loyal. I've worked for the same organization the whole time, and my plan is to retire from there."
His rapid upward trajectory was made possible by the introduction of new technology. Dragos used his computer skills to develop and become director of the information-technology department in 2003.
At the time, he says, Fred Beans had maybe 50 computers at about 15 dealerships. A year later the stores had more than 500 computers, including one on each salesperson's desk. Today there are about 1,300.
"It gave me the luxury of being able to learn every facet of this business," Dragos says. "I wasn't a guy putting parts away on a shelf where you only learn about the parts department. My job was putting me into all different areas of the dealerships."
Eventually Dragos wanted to move into the revenue-producing side of the business. He now is in charge of making sure the 18 Fred Beans service departments follow proper procedures and hit financial targets.
He is drawing on his technology expertise to implement initiatives that let customers schedule appointments, follow their vehicle's status and pay repair bills online. That frees up staff to do other tasks and makes customers happier, Dragos says.
"The service side of the business has not gone as digital as other areas are," he says. "The more self-service we can allow, the customer to do, the more satisfied they'll be."
-- Nick Bunkley