Brian Finegan, 39
General manager, Clovis Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram
For nearly a decade, Brian Finegan was a baseball player traveling the U.S., first with Saint Mary's College of California, then Cuesta College, then the University of Hawaii. He ultimately landed in the minor leagues as part of the Cleveland Indians organization.
In 2009, with his shortstop days over, Finegan traded in his life of playing on a baseball diamond for working in the family business: a Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Fresno, Calif.
"It was probably the worst time to come back into it," Finegan said, referring to Chrysler's bankruptcy that year and the Great Recession.
But Finegan was undeterred. He started out in the dealership's Internet department, where he learned how to work with customers and sell vehicles. From there, Finegan became sales manager and wore as many dealership hats as he could.
The formation of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles led to the opportunity for some dealers to open Fiat dealerships. It took some lobbying to get FCA's approval for a Fresno store, Finegan said, but ultimately his family opened a Fiat dealership in 2011.
"My dad really put me in charge of that," said Finegan, who was that store's general manager. "That's where I really kind of blossomed. We had our own building. We went from selling 10 Fiats a month to over 100 a month in a relatively quick span."
In 2013, Finegan's family was awarded an open point for a new Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership in the neighboring town of Clovis. Finegan moved to the new store and became its general manager.
FCA's initial sales projections for the Clovis location were a modest 30 new vehicles per month, Finegan said.
But it didn't take long for the store to surpass projections. New sales averaged around 52 vehicles per month that first year. Sales continued to grow, and the dealership sold 1,145 new vehicles in 2019. In 2020, despite the coronavirus pandemic, that increased to 1,323, Finegan said.
Finegan credits the store's success to employees' teamwork.
"I have a really good team of people," he said. "I think some of that is maybe my baseball career and learning the aspects and the ins and outs of what it means to have a good, solid team. You can have as many individual superstars as you want, but if it doesn't come together as a team, then it doesn't work."
— Jack Walsworth