Parent will replace outgoing COO Steve Kwak, who will exit the company at the end of the month. The incoming operations chief most recently served as president and general manager of Gulf States Toyota, one of the Japanese brand’s largest non-franchised retailers. Parent has also served as a regional vice president for Volkswagen of America.
In a press release, AutoNation emphasized that the new COO’s experience in both foreign and domestic sales made him qualified to lead the dealership group’s operations. “Jeff Parent is a proven leader with an excellent track record of success across multiple aspects of the automotive and personal transportation landscapes,” wrote company CEO Mike Manley. Parent expressed excitement for his new role, noting that “the coming few years are going to offer a unique opportunity for AutoNation” to “progressively differentiate itself in the industry and in the eyes of [its] customers.”
AutoNation has continued to grow as a company despite facing a challenging automotive landscape in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early-year setbacks, including the surrendering of its “top selling dealership group” title to Lithia Motors and a stock downgrade imposed by JPMorgan, were mitigated thanks to improved sales in the second quarter. The company has also maintained an intense mergers-and-acquisitions pace, adding five new stores in California’s highly competitive market in June. The dealership group will likely report its third-quarter earnings in October.