General manager, Bobby Rahal Motorcar Co.
David Dragisic is a Bobby Rahal Group lifer, working 18 years at the same dealership owned by the former race car driver, IndyCar champion and current team owner.
His chance to be the “top guy” at his store, a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Wexford, Pa., came in January 2020, when his five years as sales manager culminated in a promotion to general manager. That meant Dragisic was in charge only a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
When many state governments forced dealerships across the country to shut down starting in March 2020, Pennsylvania stores were among the hardest hit. Service departments could remain open, but vehicle sales were banned.
Pennsylvania didn’t allow even online auto sales until mid-April. Pennsylvania started gradually permitting in-person sales on a region-by-region basis starting in May, but dealerships in all regions weren’t allowed in-person sales until June.
In the meantime, Dragisic said he had the responsibility of furloughing 100 out of 130 employees, for about six weeks. Almost all of them returned. There was some reorganization. Some positions were eliminated, and some individuals opted not to come back, but Dragisic said he was proud the dealership had no net reduction in positions.
In Dragisic’s first year as general manager, the dealership still hit about 99 percent of its financial goals, he said. In 2021, the dealership greatly exceeded its goals and also won a Mercedes-Benz “Best of the Best” Silver Laurel Award, for hitting or exceeding targets in new-car sales, certified pre-owned sales, customer-pay parts sales and accessory sales.
Dragisic started in 2004 as a lot attendant at Bobby Rahal Motorcar Co., one of Rahal’s 13 dealerships, all of which are in Pennsylvania.
Dragisic was still taking classes toward his bachelor’s degree in information science at the University of Pittsburgh, about 20 miles away, when he got promoted to sales.
Coming up through the ranks, and working at the same dealership for so many years, Dragisic says he developed a “great perspective” on the detailed nuts and bolts of the operation.
“Also, it helps me relate and understand the needs of our team, as well as anticipating some of their needs,” he said. “It shows the team that you can be anything you want to be in the automotive industry and that the sky’s the limit.”
— Jim Henry