Far Ahead of Others

Sid DeBoer: Unconventional thinker The genesis for this month's cover story on Lithia Automotive Inc. began with an e-mail from CEO and President Sid DeBoer

May 1, 2007

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Sid DeBoer: Unconventional thinker

The genesis for this month's cover story on Lithia Automotive Inc. began with an e-mail from CEO and President Sid DeBoer last year taking issue with part of last year's Megadealer 100 cover feature in which I wrote that public dealer groups were dialing back on their acquisition strategies.

Not us, DeBoer said in his response.

I had lumped all of the public groups together without talking to DeBoer first. Compared with other groups, Lithia gets little coverage in the press. I was reporting on several conversations I had with executives from other groups and analysts.

For this year's Megadealer 100, I went to Medford, OR, site of Lithia's headquarters, to see what DeBoer was all about.

In my opinion, the industry would do well to listen when DeBoer speaks. He's not a conventional thinker, and in many ways, his ideas on selling cars in the 21st century are far ahead of others.

DeBoer thinks car sales will be dramatically different in 10 years. He has several initiatives in the works that you can read about, starting on page 18. They may overhaul the way cars are sold.
Cliff Banks
Editorial Director
[email protected]

Automotive Pioneer Jim Moran Dies at 88

Jim Moran, a Chicago auto dealer who went on to found a multi-billion-dollar firm, JM Family Enterprises Inc., died April 24, 2007 at Hillsboro Beach, FL. He was 88.

Described as a highlight of his long career, the Deerfield Beach, FL, firm is an $11.1 billion diversified automotive corporation ranked by Forbes as the 18th largest privately held company in the country. Its flagship subsidiary, Southeast Toyota Distributors, LLC (SET), is the world's largest independent distributor of Toyota vehicles. Moran was active in JM Family until the end.

From his days in Chicago of selling soft drinks at sandlot baseball games at age seven, to building an automotive marketing empire, his philosophy for success stayed the same: Work hard, treat people fairly and start every day with an idea of how to do things better.

His employees say he was the consummate boss, because, in his mind, people worked with him, rather than for him. He is remembered for his humbleness, kindness and generosity to an array of people and causes.

His automotive career began when he borrowed $360 to purchase a Sinclair gas station in Chicago and began selling used cars there four years later. He then became the No.1 Hudson dealer in the country; the first-ever dealer to advertise on television; the No.1 Ford dealer in the world; and, in 1961, the first and only car dealer featured on the cover of Time magazine.

In 1966, he moved to South Florida where he founded JM Family, and also was the largest-volume Pontiac dealer for the 20 years he owned JM Pontiac. He once joked that his original intention of going to Florida was to retire.

In 2005, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, MI.

“No leader in our industry or community has ever been more accomplished, respected or beloved than Jim Moran,” says Colin Brown, JM Family's president and CEO.

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