Former AutoNation Inc. CEO Cheryl Miller has a new job.
Miller, who in July resigned after a three-month medical leave and more than a decade with the largest U.S. dealership group, will become CFO of JM Family Enterprises, a diversified automotive-focused conglomerate in Deerfield Beach, Fla. She starts Jan. 4.
She will fill an opening that stems from the creation of a new division aimed at helping the private company grow through acquisitions and investments. The unit, called JM Family Holdings & Services, will be led by Ron Coombs, JM's CFO since 2015. Coombs, 56, begins his new role as president in January.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Miller. She joined the company in 2004 as assistant treasurer and two years later was promoted to vice president and treasurer.
"JM Family is a world-class culture," she told Automotive News. "And so an opportunity to come back into that culture is like coming home."
In 2009, Miller left JM Family to join AutoNation as treasurer and vice president of investor relations. She rose to CFO in 2014 before being named CEO in July 2019, when AutoNation parted ways with industry outsider Carl Liebert after just four months in the role.
Chairman and former chief executive Mike Jackson filled in for Miller while she was on leave for undisclosed health reasons that AutoNation kept private at Miller's request. Jackson remains chairman and added the CEO title again as his contract was extended through April 12, 2022.
Miller, 48, on Tuesday declined to comment on her health during her tenure with AutoNation and what condition led to her medical leave.
"I feel great," said Miller, who also serves on the board of Tyson Foods Inc. "I ran 5 miles this morning [and I'm] looking forward to hitting the ground running at JM Family."
When asked about her departure from AutoNation, Miller said: "I had a fantastic tenure at AutoNation. I learned a ton. Mike Jackson was one of my mentors. The companies have a fantastic relationship with each other and have for a long time, so I feel really good about everything."
For more than 50 years, JM Family's businesses were rooted solely in automotive. The company was founded by auto dealer Jim Moran in 1968 and has grown to include Southeast Toyota Distributors, finance and insurance products provider JM&A Group, Southeast Toyota Finance, subsidiary business DataScan and the JM Lexus dealership in Margate, Fla.
In 2019, the company made its first non-automotive acquisition, buying Home Franchise Concepts, a home-improvement products and services franchise network that includes brands such as Budget Blinds.
JM Family CEO Brent Burns called Coombs, who joined the company in 1999, "a great leader." He also said he is pleased to have Miller return.
"She and I have worked together before. She knows the idiosyncrasies that she is going to get with me from a number of years of working directly with each other," Burns said. "She knows the capital markets exceptionally well. In the last decade, she's really grown and gotten to see a different side of the auto business."