Lithia Motors Inc. is promoting Executive Vice President Chris Holzshu to the No. 2 spot at the company, the public dealership group said Monday. Holzshu's promotion is the latest in a spate of executive changes at Lithia during the past year and a half.
The shuffles, Lithia said in a statement, are part of "the organization's redesign to further accelerate Lithia's growth while also realizing the substantial earnings potential in its existing store base."
Beginning in 2016, Holzshu, 45, had oversight of regional platforms and operations teams as executive vice president for the nation's third-largest new-vehicle retailer. He previously spent six years as Lithia's CFO and head of human resources.
"Chris has demonstrated a broad understanding of store operations, integrating acquisitions and growing platforms in step with our strategic aspirations," Lithia CEO Bryan DeBoer said in the company statement. "His leadership will help us better leverage our talented operations team and will enable us to capture potential faster."
This is the first time Lithia has had a COO since 2012. DeBoer previously held the title until his appointment as CEO.
The Medford, Ore., retailer began shuffling its executive team in 2018 to better situate the company for a digital future.
DeBoer told Automotive News in January that Lithia examined how shifting titles and compensation of its executive team could free up money to invest in new legal and technology experts at the corporate level.
"As we get more into the digital space, a lot of your intellectual property becomes more valuable," DeBoer said. "Online starts to become more proprietary, that you want to own that. So ... we really started to learn about a year ago that we're going to need to elevate things here."
Lithia rearranged top positions to create two new roles — chief legal officer and chief innovation and technology officer.
George Hines became the company's first chief innovation and technology officer in July 2018. David Stork, Lithia's first lawyer-in-chief, was hired in January.
Lithia CFO Tina Miller was promoted twice this year. Miller had been corporate controller from 2015 until March of this year when she became chief accounting officer. Four months later, she was elevated to her current role.
Lithia ranks No. 3 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 184,601 new vehicles in 2018.