The auto industry has experienced several ongoing changes in the five years since CBT News host Jim Fitzpatrick last spoke with industry legend and former AutoNation Executive Mike Maroone in Colorado Springs, Colorado. For the industry to survive in a post-pandemic market, dealers continue implementing new strategies and technologies. Initially, Maroones’ Chevy dealership was a Roger Dean store. Roger Dean was one of those mega dealers that put numerous people in business, including some of the most prominent dealerships in America. In addition, Maroone recently opened a brand-new Chevrolet dealership in West Palm Beach, Florida.
On the latest episode of the Executive Profile, Maroone further elaborates on how dealers have managed to stay ahead of EVs, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, and much more.
1. With a mere $30,000 and no money down, Marrones’ father purchased his first dealership in 1955. Following years of aspiration to emulate his father, Marrone succeeded his father as dealer principal in 1997 by acquiring nine franchise locations and a merger with AutoNation.
2. “We started with four stores and a partnership with Joe Serra in 2017,” stated Maroone, “And we have since picked up several additional stores.” In addition, Maroone is looking to close another acquisition come this December, not yet public knowledge, and will be store number eight for the auto group.
3. Maroone asserts he is “Pro-Clean Air” but argues the industry is moving too fast when considering electric vehicles. He believes that there is this government-pushed incentive for EVs, but there isn’t adequate infrastructure to support it.
4. Meanwhile, affordability remains the industry’s primary issue; “It’s the only concept buzzing around the sector that really concerns me,” declares Maroone. The problem with affordability is that prices are nowhere near dropping. In fact, there remains an imbalance of supply and demand, which doesn’t help.
5. Mike Maroone automotive has curated the capability to sell and deliver vehicles remotely, meaning that interested customers can purchase online and take advantage of the dealers’ free delivery service.
6. Looking ahead, Maroone is unsure when enough is enough. However, he says, “When you have good people to build with, the question becomes, are there lenders or capital available to support you along the way, and are there appealing opportunities?” He continues, “We have selfishly limited our demographic to Florida and Colorado, so we are searching those markets for possible acquisitions, but we don’t have a target number of stores we want to buy. We just want to run the ones we have extremely well.”
“I’m not a big car nut, but I love the car business.” – Mike Maroone