Gian Toro, 39
Director of inventory, Driveway
Gian Toro has spearheaded efforts at three of the country's largest dealership groups to overhaul how they manage their used vehicles.
Toro is now director of inventory at Driveway, the digital retailing unit of Medford, Ore.-based Lithia Motors Inc. He can point to his data-driven approach as a major factor in helping the groups he's worked for boost their used-car sales.
But growing up, he had no thought of entering the auto industry, let alone becoming a data whiz for huge dealership groups. Toro holds an English degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and before landing his first auto job, his aspirations were to study forensic psychology and work with exotic animals.
But then he took a job at Enterprise Rent-AA-Car and soon after moved to a position with CarMax.
“Once I got into CarMax, I realized I had a knack and a talent for buying and selling cars and understanding the data behind it,” he said.
Toro was hired at Sonic Automotive Inc., of Charlotte, N.C., in 2012 and took over its buying team in 2014, using a data-centric approach to purchasing inventory. The team bought 500 vehicles a month when he started, but that rose to about 2,500 a month two years later, helping to boost Sonic’s used-vehicle sales, he said.
In 2018 he joined Napleton Automotive Group of Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., where he developed a purchasing tool the company used to more than double its used-vehicle sales by the time he left in 2020.
Leading Driveway’s inventory unit, Toro has helped to develop an internal appraisal algorithm that he said allowed the company to no longer rely on a third-party vendor and to gain more control over what is offered to its customers.
At each stop, Toro said he was able to learn by being open to ideas and knowing whom to ask for help. As a leader, he said he takes pride in helping others reach their potential.
“My leadership style,” he said, “is just about educating and showing the benefit of all of this.”
— John Irwin