AutoNation Inc. has named a financial executive from outside the auto industry to fill the CFO role vacated by Cheryl Miller when she was named CEO of the public dealership group in July.
The nation's largest new-vehicle retailer said Friday that Joseph Lower, CFO of office-supplies company Office Depot since January 2018, will start as AutoNation's CFO on Jan. 13, 2020. Lower, 52, will report to Miller.
Lower, with more than three decades of financial and business development experience, spent two years with Office Depot in Boca Raton, Fla., working on the brand's transformation efforts. He previously was CFO at B/E Aerospace Inc., a publicly traded aviation products company. He also worked in management positions for Boeing Co., including vice president of business development and strategy, and with Credit Suisse in investment banking.
"We are excited to have Joe join the AutoNation team. Joe is a seasoned financial professional with a versatile background across multiple industries," Miller said in a statement. "With his broad and extensive experience in financial management, business development and strategy, Joe will be a great addition to the executive team."
Lower, who will oversee AutoNation's finance, accounting, treasury, investor relations and corporate real estate, also assumes responsibility for strategy and AutoNation's shared service center in Irving, Texas.
He will receive a sign-on bonus of $1.15 million in cash and a one-time restricted stock unit grant valued at $1.85 million following his first day with AutoNation, according to a regulatory filing. Lower will earn a base salary of $750,000, participate in AutoNation’s annual incentive compensation program with a target award of 90 percent of his annual base salary and will receive 2020 restricted stock units valued at $1.8 million, according to the filing.
AutoNation named Christopher Cade interim CFO this summer when Miller became CEO. Miller replaced industry outsider Carl Liebert, who departed after just four months as CEO. Cade had been AutoNation's chief accounting officer and will return to that role effective Jan. 13, 2020.
In September, Miller told Automotive News that internal and external candidates would be evaluated for the CFO position.
AutoNation, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ranks No. 1 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., retailing 310,839 new vehicles in 2018.