Fixed Ops Employee Success Stories: AutoNation CEO Started as an Auto Technician

By Beth Kempton,
May 16, 2018

Whether considering a career as an auto technician or any other role, today’s job seekers demand clearly defined career paths and opportunities for continuous growth. And most people both inside and outside the retail automotive industry often make the mistake of thinking technicians have limited long-term career prospects.

What today’s job seekers don’t realize is, starting out as an auto technician can offer significant career growth both within the fixed ops department and across the dealership. Some technicians have even risen the ranks to CEO, general manager and other high-level positions. Below, we’ve pulled together several examples of auto technician career path success stories.  

Mike Jackson, CEO and President, AutoNation

AutoNation Chairman of the Board, CEO and President Mike Jackson rose the ranks in the automotive industry before eventually leading AutoNation, the largest new vehicle retailer in the U.S. He started his automotive career as a technician for a Mercedes-Benz Dealership before ultimately serving as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, overseeing U.S. sales operation and 311 franchised dealerships before joining AutoNation.

Beyond his career growth, Jackson has also received many accolades, including one of the “Fifty Visionary Dealers” by Automotive News and one of the top 50 Global Business Leaders by Fortune Magazine.

Donald L Slavin, President of Operations, Jones Acura

Jones Acura President of Operations Donald L Slavin unofficially started his automotive career in middle school, when he washed cars at a Ford Dealership and attended an extracurricular automotive class. A few years later, his career began as an auto technician for the Jones Dealerships. Since then, he has held many positions, including salesperson, finance manager, GMC sales manager and general manager before taking on the role of president of operations.

Jeremy Morrissey, General Manager, Volvo Cars Palm Springs

Volvo Cars Palm Springs General Manager Jeremy Morrissey started his career as an auto technician for Saab before eventually moving up the ranks to General Manager. Morrissey also held general manager positions across several dealerships before joining Volvo Cars Palm Springs in the role.

Robert Morrison, Director of Aftersales, Pfaff Volkswagen

Pfaff Volkswagen Director of Aftersales Robert Morrison started his career by answering a classified ad for a detailer at a local dealership. The service manager noticed his passion and eagerness to learn and offered to sponsor Morrison if he was interested in becoming a certified auto technician. A few year later, he earned his auto technician license and eventually became a master technician at a Volvo dealership.

Not long after joining Volvo, Morrison moved up in the ranks to assistant service manager and later to service manager at Volvo, and he was invited onto a Dealer Council for North America for the brand. Morrison eventually joined Pfaff in 2013, and in 2015 was promoted to fixed operations manager at Pfaff Volkswagen, and regional service manager for the Pfaff Group – which consists of 11 dealerships – in 2017 before ultimately moving to director of aftersales.

Outside his successful career path, Morrison has also taught automotive service technician apprenticeship classes and written technical articles for industry publications.

How Your Dealership Can Attract Top Auto Technician Talent

As these examples show, a career as a service technician can offer exciting growth opportunities – but your dealership needs to make career paths clear in your employment brand materials. If your dealership career site and job descriptions don’t provide candidates with an understanding of career progression, they will likely find a competitor that does.

On your career site, outline career paths for your fixed ops department and other departments across the dealership. Also highlight employee success stories similar to those above and employee testimonials, so prospective applicants know your dealership is a great place to work.

Dealerships face many challenges when it comes to attracting quality auto technicians and outlining career paths is just a small piece of the solution. For more information on how to build your best team of auto technicians, download our eBook, “5 Tools to Attract and Hire Quality Fixed Ops Staff.”



About the Author

Beth is the content strategist on Hireology’s marketing team, responsible for creating compelling blog posts, eBooks, marketing materials and other content. Her background includes five years of experience at a B2B digital marketing agency, where she crafted content for a variety of clients, including several in the HR technology space. Before beginning her career, Beth attended Loyola University Chicago, where she studied advertising and public relations.

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