Eddie Hall III , 32
CFO, Hall Automotive Group
As Eddie Hall III approached college graduation in the midst of the Great Recession, many of his peers questioned his ambition to join the auto industry.
Hall had always planned to follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the family business, Hall Automotive Group in Royal Oak, Mich., which has four dealerships in southeast Michigan. But before Hall committed, he needed to know: could he make a difference?
“I remember sitting down with my dad before I started … and my big thing was that if I wasn't going to be able to make a substantial impact and move the needle, then to me it didn’t make sense to join the business,” Hall said.
That was in 2010. Eight years later, after climbing the company’s ranks, Hall became CFO.
“Anytime you’re going into a family business, especially as a young man, there can be a stigma … that you’re just being given a position, that you might not deserve it,” said Hall. He had to prove he was competent and capable and could advance the business. “I was able to do that and earn the respect of the rest of the people I worked with.”
Hall’s career peak so far has been the company’s June 2018 acquisition of Northland Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Oak Park, Mich.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles asked the company whether it was interested in the struggling store, and Hall’s father, CEO Eddie Hall Jr., told him to take the lead.
In May, that dealership sold 129 new vehicles, up from 58 the year earlier under previous ownership, and 49 used vehicles, up from 12.
An advertising boost, inventory expansion and a reputable name drove much of the improvement, Hall said.
“We spent a lot of time and efforts on getting the word out there that we were under new ownership and new management, cleaning the place up,” Hall said. “Within weeks, we had people come in and say, ‘Did something change here? Your place looks different. It has more energy. It’s more organized.’”
The store previously focused primarily on the subprime loan market, but under Hall, it now reaches an entire spectrum of buyers and offers leases.
As profit margins continue to tighten, Hall said, the company also strives to improve scale. “As you have more rooftops, you just have more buying power, more negotiating power from things like advertising contracts, health care,” he said.
The group is open to buying more dealerships, but Hall doesn’t want to become too big. “We like being a family-owned and -oriented business,” he said. “So we're not looking for a hundred rooftops or anything like that, but I could see adding a couple more.”
Hall is on the board of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers’ Nextgen group, established in 2015. Last week, Hall received the Rising Star Award from NAMAD and Cox Automotive. Hall was also recently appointed to Ford’s dealer council.
At Hall Automotive Group, his long-term goal is becoming president when his dad retires.
For now, Hall says, he’s wearing multiple hats “to gain as much exposure to every aspect of the business.”
-— Hannah Lutz