FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — AutoNation Inc. has tapped an auto industry outsider, Carl Liebert, to replace CEO Mike Jackson and give the largest U.S. dealership group its first new leader in two decades.
For the past five years, Liebert, 53, has been COO of USAA, a financial services company serving nearly 13 million U.S. military members and their families. Earlier in his career, he had stints at retail giants Circuit City and Home Depot as well as General Electric.
Friday's announcement caps a search set off last September when Jackson, now 70, said he would step down sometime this year. Liebert will become AutoNation's president and CEO and a board member on March 11, when Jackson transitions to executive chairman.
In recent months, the company has seen additional executive churn.
In December, Michael Larson, the lead independent director who was in charge of the effort to find a replacement for Jackson, abruptly stepped down. And an early January announcement of a $50 million restructuring plan accompanied word of four executive exits, including COO Lance Iserman.
Days later, AutoNation said the new CEO would come from outside the company.
The restructuring initiative also consolidated AutoNation's three regions into two, and cut corporate and regional jobs. The moves were made, AutoNation said, with an eye towards a "challenging 2019" for auto retailers.