General manager, BMW of Ramsey and Mini of Ramsey
The way Michael Tornatore sees it, working at a New York dealership in various roles during summers in high school and college was his auto retail internship.
After graduating from college, Tornatore got into financial planning at New York Life Insurance Co. It was there where he generated his affinity for sales, he said, but after his boss was promoted, he began to look elsewhere.
BMWs were one of Tornatore's interests — his favorite model growing up was the iconic M3 E46 convertible — and he found a hiring dealership, Prestige BMW in Ramsey, N.J.
"I liked the sales aspect, and what's better than selling something you can actually tangibly touch, feel, smell and get a reaction from rather than what I was formerly doing," Tornatore said.
Tornatore was a high-performing salesman for two-and-a half years before being promoted into a hybrid role as sales and finance manager at the group's Mini dealership, also in Ramsey. He became general sales manager of the Mini store and then later took the same role at the BMW store.
In 2018, Lithia Motors Inc. bought six dealerships from Prestige Family of Fine Cars. Under Lithia's ownership, Tornatore became general manager of the Mini dealership and two years later added the same title for the BMW dealership.
At the BMW store, Tornatore hired key positions for both sales and service. Over two years, the number of technicians doubled, which helped boost the store's service volume and revenue.
"Having the right people in the right spot generates positive vibes within the store," he said.
In 2020, the BMW store sold a little more than 1,000 used vehicles. Last year, that number grew to nearly 1,900, he said. The Mini dealership's used-vehicle volume also rose.
"If you're committed to the used-car game, it certainly helps overall profitability," Tornatore said.
Tornatore said he has twice won the prestigious Lithia Partners Group award, which is given to the top 10 percent of company general managers.
Tornatore played baseball at Iona College in New York and said the impact of his athletic career continues.
"All the things that I've learned and developed through sports has certainly shaped my success and just driving myself to be the best," Tornatore said.
— Jack Walsworth