Kyler Schulze, 39
General manager, AutoNation USA Katy
Kyler Schulze is known around AutoNation Inc. for generating top results for the auto retail giant’s We’ll Buy Your Car program.
Schulze has been general manager of the used-only AutoNation USA Katy store in Houston for a year. Since he started in that role, the store not only has boasted the highest volume of vehicles purchased from customers across five AutoNation USA locations each month, but also across AutoNation’s total footprint of about 230 stores.
“I’ve got a good team, and I’ve got a very, very good individual that this is his sole focus,” Schulze said. Staffers do a lot of follow-up on prospective deals, and he is personally involved with many.
Schulze has worked in auto retail for more than two decades, including stints with Don Davis Auto Group, Van Tuyl Group and Group 1 Automotive Inc. before he joined AutoNation in 2015.
He started his AutoNation career running a Nissan store in Dallas before moving to three other dealerships to help those stores improve their used-car departments. In 2018, he was promoted to used-vehicle director, then overseeing 14 stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“Used cars is like my passion,” he said. “That’s what I always really excelled at.”
Schulze said the AutoNation USA stores are a priority for the company, but the Katy location was underperforming when he joined. Sales volume has jumped 56 percent during his tenure, he said, and the store was No. 1 among AutoNation USA stores for total gross profit, among other metrics, in the first quarter. Schulze credits the success to setting high expectations for staff, putting employees in positions where they can show their strengths and focusing on behaviors such as having a good attitude.
Schulze was 15 when he obtained a hardship driver’s license so he could help his mother out financially. He started working for auto wholesalers to transfer, deliver and clean cars. When he was 18 and just out of high school, Schulze got his big break, landing a used-car sales position with Don Davis Ford in Arlington, Texas.
Now, Schulze aims to ascend to market president and ultimately regional president for the nation’s largest new-vehicle retailer. And in those roles, he would like to help further the careers of employees in the same way he’s been aided by leaders along his journey.
“Without those individuals, be it mentors, coaches or bosses that I had, I wouldn’t have realized my own potential,” Schulze said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. So it’s become more significant for me at this point to want to do the same for others.”
— Melissa Burden