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Who can reinstate AutoNation’s Mike Jackson as voice of a industry?

So who will do a articulate for American automobile dealers when Mike Jackson stairs down from a brag pulpit that is AutoNation?

For that matter, what other play can speak like Mike Jackson?

The passionate former dealership automechanic — AutoNation’s CEO given 1999 — has been zero reduction than a voice of a industry, an in-your-face articulator of issues weighing on all dealers; a blunt force means to lean hulk automakers and even a U.S. government.

Those are strong large boots to fill as a nation’s largest new-vehicle tradesman launches a hunt for a inheritor to Jackson, who will pierce to a new executive authority purpose subsequent year. The transition could make for a vital tonal change during AutoNation. It’s one thing to find a savvy business personality who can capably run 250 dealerships; it’s another to find a Great Communicator.

Of course, Jackson, who will spin 70 in February, creates certain to highlight that he’s adhering around for a while.

“This is not a retirement,” Jackson told Automotive News. Then in a same conversation, demonstrating a bullhorn purpose he’s developed, Jackson chimed in on some topics that are thorns in a side of dealers.

Though business is in good figure today, “The attention is massively emasculate in register government and inducement programs,” Jackson said. “The inducement programs are not what a consumer wants. we cruise it leads to a chaotic, unfair, disruptive, unfinished marketplace that consumers unequivocally don’t like.” And that conditions is removing worse, not better, he added.



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Making assessments like that with unchanging magnitude has warranted Jackson accolades from many dealers. The regard was clear final week after news pennyless about a CEO search.

“Can he please, greatfully still be a voice of all dealers as listened by Automotive News?” one commenter on a Automotive News website wrote.

Another said, “Mr. Jackson has given a play voice credit to those who would dismiss.”


Jackson has magnified AutoNation’s significance in a rarely fragmented universe of automobile retailing. Though a association is perennially ranked initial on a annual Automotive News list of a tip 150 dealership groups, AutoNation’s 2017 sell new-vehicle sales done adult only underneath 2 percent of a industry’s light-vehicle sales final year.

Jackson became AutoNation CEO in 1999, wooed from a tip pursuit during Mercedes-Benz USA by a retailer’s late founder, Wayne Huizenga. He was met with evident hurdles — Jackson called it “chaos” — and changed fast to tighten many of a retailer’s 29 used-car megastores and modify a rest to new-car dealerships. He also killed skeleton for a inhabitant brand, yet he kept a thought tighten and bided his time until a 2013 rollout of a AutoNation code on all association dealerships, save for luxury-brand stores.

Jackson now touts goal achieved on a turnaround. In July, he was inducted into a Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Mich. He is also a 10-time Automotive News All Star.

During Jackson’s 19-year care run, a tradesman has grown an outsize attention participation and influence. AutoNation has been a personality among dealership groups in centralizing far-flung operations, rising transactional websites and building a code name that reaches over new-vehicle stores to used-vehicle stores, auctions, aftermarket tools and financial and word products.

It’s precisely where AutoNation is now that creates it a right time for a subsequent chapter, Jackson pronounced final week.

The proclamation comes 10 months after Jackson wrapped adult a five-year renovate of AutoNation’s plan to position a tradesman for a long-term future. Those stairs enclosed putting a AutoNation name on many of a company’s stores; environment adult AutoNation Express online storefronts; rising standalone used-car outlets; branding parts, accessories and FI products with a corporate moniker; and servicing Waymo self-driving vehicles.

“The company’s in a good position; a association is in a position of strength. I’m in a good position; I’m in a position of strength,” Jackson said. “That is indeed a good impulse to transition.”

AutoNation’s batch strike a 52-week low of $42.87 on Tuesday, Sept. 18, only before a announcement. Its 52-week high is $62.02. The shares rose somewhat after a announcement, shutting Friday during $44.39.

Jackson envisions his subsequent section as executive authority eventually relocating into something reduction than full time. But that’s still a while away.

AutoNation’s house of directors initial has to find a subsequent CEO. The collect could occur anytime in 2019, Jackson said. The house has defended executive hunt organisation Spencer Stuart. The association says it will cruise both inner and outmost candidates.

AutoNation’s lead eccentric director, Michael Larson, will conduct a board’s hunt efforts. Larson is arch investment officer for Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is AutoNation’s largest shareholder, with a 23 percent stake.

Jackson’s tip major is COO Lance Iserman, a 17-year AutoNation maestro who has been in that post given Jun 2017. Iserman is a retailer’s third COO given 2015. Jackson’s longtime No. 2, Michael Maroone, late in early 2015. Maroone was transposed by long-serving AutoNation executive Bill Berman, who left a association in May 2017.

Another charge for a subsequent year: reckoning out where AutoNation focuses some-more efforts in a code prolongation rollout.

“All a code extensions are really sparkling — some are remarkably sparkling — and we need to make a preference either to deposit some-more aggressively in both government time and collateral in some tools of code prolongation since a earnings are so many aloft over a subsequent several years than in other parts,” Jackson said.

He declined to brand that tools of a plan seem many earnest today.

Penske concession

AutoNation has extended Jackson’s agreement by 2021. Beyond 2021 is undecided, Jackson said.

Still, a proclamation means Jackson will strew a CEO pretension progressing than once indicated. In 2013, shortly before Jackson incited 65, he told Automotive News that he wanted to run AutoNation for as prolonged as crony and aspirant Roger Penske ran opposition Penske Automotive Group.

“Let’s contend Roger retires when he’s 85, in that case, I’ll be [near] 75,” Jackson pronounced then. “You can afterwards say: ‘Mike’s going to retire in 10 years.’ Whatever Roger’s in for, I’m in for.” Penske was 76 during a time and is now 81 and continues as authority and CEO of a opposition automobile retailer.

Jackson final week concurred he might tumble brief of Penske’s mark.

“Now as distant as my dear crony Roger, we will concur that he is a relocating target,” Jackson said. “He might win this. But we’re not dogmatic it won or mislaid today, OK?”

And Jackson himself has a lot of work to do before he moves into his new role.

“When we get adult tomorrow,” he said, “I’ve got to sell cars and repair cars.”

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