Senior manager, talent development, #1 Cochran
Even as a child, Ryan Koch found car dealerships to be a special place, despite not having grown up in the industry. His first job as a lot attendant eventually led to leadership roles in auto sales and finance.
“When I was a kid and I knew my parents were going to get their vehicle serviced or buy a new vehicle, it got to the point where they wouldn’t tell me where they were going,” Koch said in an interview. “I would be so excited the night before that I wouldn’t be able to sleep.”
In 2014, Koch was recruited by #1 Cochran dealership group of western Pennsylvania as a general sales manager. That was followed by roles as variable operations training manager and learning and development manager. Koch now oversees an extensive internal training program for 1,250 team members at 30 dealerships, 10 collision centers and a parts center.
“My role is to ensure that team members have avenues for professional growth,” he said. That can also mean employees following their passion rather than just staying on their original career path.
“If they want to change career paths, they can change it,” Koch said. “They don’t have to be in sales if they want to go into information technology.”
Koch has led efforts to develop internal training programs that have contributed to an extremely low turnover rate compared with the rest of the industry, he said.
At the basic level, that includes a new-hire program that is a paid, structured, 10-day off-site series of classes.
There are midterm exams, a final exam and a formal certification process.
At the other end of the spectrum is a management training program that runs up to a year. That’s also a paid program in which participants focus exclusively on learning through four 10-week programs, Koch said.
Currently, the program is focused on developing future F&I managers, but that will be expanded soon. Koch is working to scale the program beyond sales to service, parts and collision managers.
“We pull them out 100 percent [from their current jobs] and they are designated in a learning role,” Koch said. “We understand that it’s an investment in their future.”
Koch also works in the community, including with the Pittsburgh Passport summer internship program. He’s also working on his master’s degree in human resource management at Southern New Hampshire University.
— Laurence Iliff