October 9, 2015

Agent Entrepreneur Magazine - 40 Visions for the Future (excerpt)

The young executives recognized for ‘40 Under 40’ honors share their visions for the future of automotive retail and finance, give tribute to their mentors and advice for future generations of industry leaders.

In an age in which progress is measured not in small steps but leaps and bounds, the expectations on those entering the automotive arena are just as demanding. Along with keeping up with the changing demands of their clients and end users, this generation of 40 under 40 are also tasked with paving a clear path to the future. For this issue, the editors and publishers of Agent Entrepreneur set out to recognize a select group of young executives whose vision, hard work and accomplishments have set them apart as the industry’s best and brightest.

The announcement of this issue resulted in more than 100 nominations, most of which presented a clear and convincing case for the inclusion of an industrious and, recognizable member of the industry. The final roster is comprised of those who stood out for having made lasting changes to their companies, their clients’ businesses or the industry as a whole.

Once named, the nominees were asked to answer a series of questions, starting with what drew them to the industry and whom they credit with teaching them the intricacies of corporate, dealer and agency culture. They were also asked how they believe their generation will drive advances in technology and customer service and offer advice for the generation to follow.

Without exception, they answered with confidence and clarity, and a number of common themes emerged. It is clear that changes in the automotive industry will continue to revolve around customer service at every stage of the buying, financing and administration process. We also learned that relying on the advice and counsel of one’s elders is paramount to success, and new entrants into the field will have to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their work and their customers to enjoy any measure of success in a competitive — but rewarding — industry.

Garrett Thorpe

Vice President
The Impact Group

What drew you to the automotive industry?
The first word I ever spoke was “car.” My interest in the automotive industry goes back so far that it feels innate, though my father’s career surely played a key role along the way. When I was very young, my dad had left the retail side of the business and was managing F&I for Mid-Atlantic Toyota Distributors. I was thrilled whenever Dad arrived home driving a new demo I could play in, or days I could join him for a sales meeting or Saturday visit to a dealership. I paid close attention to the business as I grew up. I learned a lot and became excited to enter the industry and gain my own professional experiences.

Where do you see the industry going and how do you believe your generation will drive any changes?
Even speaking as a software provider, I’m excited to watch our industry find a healthy balance between innovative, new technologies and personal interactions. My generation has grown up with technology, social media and information at our disposal. We observe social interactions constantly and differently than generations before us and have a keen perception of what is genuine and honest versus what’s disingenuous or fake. We love the convenience technology creates but recognize and appreciate skilled, capable, trained professionals who educate and assist us in making important decisions. I think my generation will strike that balance and enhance the experience for today’s automotive consumer.

What advice would you give to young people entering the industry?
Apply the same degree of professionalism every day that you would expect from any professionally degreed individual or trusted adviser. Our focus needs to be on changing the negative perception of our industry that still exists for so many — and enhancing customers’ experiences with us is where that begins. Listen and learn more than you speak, seek advice from experts and make it your primary goal to help others solve their problems.

If you are part of a family business, what are the key elements of making it successful?
Phenomenal people, tight processes and a team approach. Everyone has a voice and a valued role in steering our company’s direction. We work very hard for our partners and clients but value flexibility and balance between work and personal life. Ultimately, the goal is to build the company that we ourselves would want to work for.

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