AutoNation names Iserman COO, executive vice president of sales

AutoNation Inc. named Lance Iserman COO and executive vice president of sales, effective June 1, the nation’s largest dealership group said late Wednesday, two weeks after former COO Bill Berman abruptly resigned.

Iserman, who has worked at AutoNation for more than 15 years, is currently president of the western region, overseeing the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., retailer’s 81 stores and 110 franchises in the region, a statement said.

Steve Kwak, 44, will replace Iserman, 52, as western region market president after serving on the western region management team for 12 years.

CEO Mike Jackson said AutoNation had “quite a number” of internal and external candidates for the COO and sales boss positions, but Iserman was “clearly the best choice and therefore the decision.”

Berman resigned May 15.

Split duties

Iserman will split Berman’s previous responsibilities with Scott Arnold, who was named executive vice president of customer care and brand extension.

“We had come to the conclusion,” Jackson said, “that with all the aspirations we have to grow the business through brand extension, to split the position” between two executive vice presidents: customer care and sales.

Executing AutoNation’s brand extension plans for parts, accessories and collision will be Arnold’s responsibility, Jackson said. Iserman will oversee the brand extension strategy for AutoNation USA, the company’s used-vehicle stores.

COO is typically seen as the No. 2 post. When asked about the succession plan for CEO, Jackson said: “We’re in an excellent position if you look at this list of executive vice presidents that we have. There are many on there to be considered in succession planning when the time comes.”

Long-timers

He identified 11 executives with a combined average of 15 years of service, including executives such as Arnold, Iserman, Chief Marketing Officer Marc Cannon and CFO Cheryl Miller.

“If I put it all together, 90 percent came from internal succession planning,” Jackson said. He added that the company would also consider candidates from outside the company.

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