Brady Peterson, 32
General manager, Peterson Lexus
Achievement: Having the most profitable year ever in the history of the Lexus store in 2015
Brady Peterson grew up questioning whether he wanted to be in his family's car business, Peterson Auto Group, which dates back to 1928.
He had been a lot boy, washing and detailing cars throughout high school. But he didn't actually try his hand at selling cars until he was away at college. He quickly fell in love with it. This wasn't much of a surprise, however, as he enjoyed trading baseball cards and comic books as a child.
After graduating from Brigham Young University with a business management degree with an emphasis on marketing, he joined the family business and shadowed the manager in the group's in-house marketing department. When she retired, he took over.
Peterson also went to the National Automobile Dealers Association's Dealer Candidate Academy, which helped him when he took over as general manager of the Lexus store in Boise, Idaho -- then the smallest dealership in the group. When he walked in the first day, the showroom was "quiet," he recalls. "The only sound was that of two sales associates playing hacky sack in the corner while they waited for the next "up.'"
Five years later, that's not the case.
"We passed the BMW store in size and now we're riding the coattails of the Chevrolet store," he said. "We've jumped about half of them."
During Peterson's first year at the store, the dealership sold 256 new and used vehicles. In 2015, the tally was up to 784. Peterson's goal is to reach 1,000 within a year and a half.
The dealership staff has also grown, from just 15 in total in 2011 to 35 today, with the sales force alone tripling in size. The Lexus store's profits more than doubled in 2015 from 2014.
Brady credits the dealership's success to hiring the right people to fit the group's culture. "We've turned away guys who were known for selling cars," he said. "Other stores scratch their heads but sometimes it's not a fit. The team is all about making people feel good."
Peterson's father, grandfather and brother are all active within the group and their combined presence has been vital to the group's success. For example, Peterson, with his father and brother, pioneered an in-house auction process for the dealership group. If a used vehicle doesn't sell within 45 days, it goes to a weekly auction open to other stores in the group.
The impetus for the auction came from the Lexus store's need for good used cars, when it couldn't afford to send a buyer to auctions. But the change benefited the group as a whole. Prior to the in-house auction, Peterson noted, one Dodge Challenger went through three of the group's stores, racking up auction fees each time.