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Lithia Motors is One of the largest automobile retail groups in the United States

Lithia Motors
The Executive Headlines

One of the largest automobile retail groups in the United States, Lithia Motors, has worked its way up the ranks and currently competes among the Fortune 500 companies with a mammoth 206 stores across 22 states. This automobile retail giant is not just into selling automobiles but offers several other services such as financing, vehicle protection subscriptions, aftermarket automotive products, collision repair services, and replacement parts.

Products and Services Mix to Success

Everyone loves cars! The company currently sells more than 33 brands of new domestic and imported vehicles and all brands of used trucks and vehicles at over 200 store locations across 95% of the United States. Moreover, their in-network inventory boasts more than 50,000 vehicles.

Lithia Motors has expanded its consumer channels with the newest e-commerce venture, Driveway, which provides customers with a shop-from-home, vehicle-ownership experience. Two years in the making, Driveway’s design aims to give the users a one-price, seamless experience for vehicle buying, selling, trade-ins, and services, from the comfort of their own homes!

The establishment has supported the initiative of a Green Earth by launching GreenCars.com for sustainable vehicles. This initiative educates the consumer on electric vehicles and their advantages. The website also offers the most extensive online inventory for the purchase of green, environmentally-friendly vehicles.

 

The inspiration that led to the company's inception

With his hard work and friendly reputation, Walt DeBoer successfully opened the first Lithia Motors dealership in Ashland in 1946.

Walt was succeeded by his oldest son, Sidney (Sid), who, when he took over the reins, doubted his ability to run the business alone, but persevered and sold 35 cars in the first month. Uplifted by this confidence, he embraced all the challenges and tribulations that followed, and the rest is history.

In 1996, Lithia Motors, Inc. had expanded to six dealerships in southern Oregon and employed more than 200 residents. The management decided to go public with the company with $146 million in annual revenues at the time. Sid’s goal for going public was to provide growth opportunities to his employees and store leaders and to expand the business to other states.

In 2012, the third generation of the DeBoers, Bryan, succeeded Sid as the CEO and President and continued Lithia Motors’ legacy. Lithia’s story emphasizes and teaches that one’s response to setbacks shapes the future. Bryan has guided the company to Fortune 500 status during his impressive tenure, including #252 in 2020, #4 10-Year Total Shareholder Return, and #6 Ten-year EPS Growth. These achievements result from the company’s growth from $2.7 billion to a whopping $13 billion.

In November 2020, Lithia Motors acquired Sterling Luxury Group (Sterling Motorcars) in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is among the most affluent counties in the United States. This acquisition added three new brands to its portfolio and includes BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Lamborghini, and McLaren. These additions further increase our brand selection and broadest national network in the industry.

 

Five factors that have contributed to Lithia's success

1. The Team

The company owes its success to its employees. From the service technicians to the vice presidents, the company would not have grown without each individual’s dedication and efforts to satisfy its customers. The company places a high degree of value on every employee’s professional growth.  The company offers in-house professional development training, goal setting through annual operating plans, promoting higher education with tuition reimbursement programs, and many such benefits for its employee’s professional growth. It offers robust benefits packages and rewards achievers who motivate the teams and serve the customer.

The workforce mirrors the communities where one lives and does business. The company understands this and engages in activities that empower communities. It prioritizes data interpretation practices throughout the employee life cycle to ensure that they achieve their highest potential.

2. Leadership

The leadership team works dynamically to craft unique, irreplaceable, high-growth strategies to earn a meaningful portion of America’s retail market share. As the company continues to grow, its leaders understand the importance of decentralized decision making that comes with scale, and store leaders are provided the autonomy to make decisions at the local level.

Every team member is encouraged to foster an entrepreneurial spirit and take personal ownership of their actions. Local leaders of the company know their community, customers, and employees and are always thankful for their contribution. With strong and humble leadership, the company continues to gain a loyal customer base.

3. Customer focus

The team proactively engages with customers and takes necessary actions to prioritize and escalate. The company strives to achieve its vision of creating unique transportation solutions by promoting incremental creativity and variation in operating models to serve each customer’s needs. The environment thus inspires all to make better decisions for the customers and the company.

 

4. Continuous improvement

One of Lithia’s core values is to improve continuously, a value that cannot be overemphasized. In a large sense, Lithia’s success is tied to its teams’ success and customer satisfaction.

Lithia’s excellent proprietary performance management system provides transparency into everyone’s results. The data from the Store Performance Scorecards (SPSs) is used to build trust and weave the four core values into the organization’s framework. Every conversation between the leadership and team focuses on objectives, core value actions, and performance, removing the subjectivity in the employer-employee relationship and strengthening communication.

The SPS contains both long-term and near-term business objectives for each store, allowing employees to take personal ownership by reviewing and understanding the progress autonomously. The SPS enables everyone to view which department is leading, serving as a scorecard for healthy internal competition and motivates an enthusiastic atmosphere to serve more customers.

5. Humility

Lithia Motors was once just a lone auto dealership in a small rural town in southern Oregon. The company’s founders, the DeBoers, value customers and relationships. Its humble beginning set the stage for the company’s growth and success. In response to how Lithia Motors became the number four company in the S&P for a 10-year total shareholder return, Bryan said, “We stay humble. We keep our heads down. And we focus on our consumers.”

 

Lithia's Core Values

1. Earn customers for life

The company aims to make every customer feel welcomed, respected, and cared for. Every employee at Lithia creates a welcoming and highly responsive environment that drives the business forward and lays grounds for the loyal customer base it can genuinely boast about in its PR. The team believes strongly in meeting the customer’s requirements and preferences and is always willing to go that extra mile for customer satisfaction. Lithia is continuously reaching out to more people via physical and digital platforms to aid in this mission.

2. Take personal ownership

Like any professional corporate organization, the team at Lithia takes personal ownership of every action and result thereof. The organization heavily attributes its success to its local entrepreneurial leadership model successfully implemented across its stores in America. By taking personal responsibility and keeping in line with its vision and mission, the team tries its best to promptly resolve issues and bottlenecks. Leadership teams are motivated to share their views to make the company more robust and resilient.

3. Improve constantly

Lithia Motors’ culture promotes participation and encourages every team member to challenge themselves to outperform benchmarks as a part of their continuous improvement process. The company aims for customer convenience, championing diversity and inclusion, promoting environmental sustainability, and engaging with community service. Every step is dedicated to growing individually and serving the customers better, thus naturally adding to the company’s growth.

Meet the Admired Bryan B. DeBoer, Chief Executive Officer & President

Bryan B. DeBoer has been Chief Executive Officer & President since 2012 and first became a director in 2008. Prior to becoming CEO. Mr. DeBoer was a senior vice-president of Managers & Acquisitions/Operations and then COO driving the grow of Lithia and transforming the company culture to an entrepreneurial and high performance model. Upon joining Lithia in 1989. Mr. DeBoer Grew through the store positions of Finance Manager. Used Vehicle Manager. Mr. DeBoer has a B.S. degree from Sothern Oregon University of Business Administration. He also graduated from the National Automobile Dealer Academy. Mr. DeBoer’s store experience. Passion for mergers and acquisitions and strong manufacturer relationships drive our growth. His enthusiasm for the car business combined with a competitive spirit set the tone for our culture.