Jon Blakely, 32
Operations director, Coyle Chevrolet-Buick-GMC and Coyle Nissan
Jon Blakely's venture into automotive retail started in 2010, after he spotted a newspaper ad for a job fair put on by Andy Mohr Ford in Plainfield, Ind.
When he showed up to the store, he was hired on the spot. His biggest goal now is to own or partner in an auto group.
"When I stepped foot in the dealership, I saw the operation and immediately fell in love," Blakely said.
He has since risen through the ranks, and in December 2019, joined Coyle Chevrolet-Buick-GMC and Coyle Nissan, two rooftops in Clarksville, Ind., as operations director.
In his first few months with Coyle Automotive Group, Blakely increased dealership personnel and initiated a culture change that emphasized investing in staff.
The stores saw strong gains that December. But the arrival of COVID-19 in mid-March brought on a sales decline and Blakely's staff "took a kick in the gut," he said.
"Every day we didn't know if we could be open or closed, based on the regulations on what the CDC said and what our local government said about whether or not we're deemed an essential business," Blakely said.
Blakely says the crisis further showed him why it is crucial to invest in the people who work for him.
"The easiest way to motivate is to stand on the front lines next to somebody who is doing the work," he said.
Despite the pandemic, Blakely and his team made several year-over-year gains. Blakely's Chevrolet-Buick-GMC store grew net profit 1,200 percent from December 2019 to December 2020. In that same time frame, used-car turn more than doubled and F&I profit rose from an average of $1,189 to $2,221 per car.
New-car volume increased 120 percent at Blakely's Nissan store and 61 percent at his Chevrolet-Buick-GMC store.
— C.J. Moore