Steve McDonald took a leap of faith, a move from Chicago, to grow Fields Auto Group's Daytona Beach dealerships and has been busy, and happy, the whole trip.
It has been a chaotic couple of years for Steve McDonald, General Manager of the Fields Auto Group operations in Daytona Beach. He took over the position in 2013 and oversaw the construction of the new BMW building at the Daytona Auto Mall, which opened in the summer of 2015. A new MINI dealership was added to the old site in the Spring of this year. Fields also acquired Volvo of Daytona this year. On top of all that, McDonald describes the local car market as “rockin'.” He recently sat down with us to discuss his outlook.
The best advice I ever got was …
“Enjoy every day like it's your last, because some day it will be. My dad told me that. I wake up in a good mood, I go to bed in a good mood and I enjoy every day. Some days are better than others, but I'm very blessed – I have a great family, great friends, and I work for a great company. I think attitude is everything. A lot of companies, like the Ritz Carlton and Chick-fil-A, hire basically on personality because if they get somebody who is a positive person, they can train them to do what they need to do. Whereas if you just look at a resume and you get someone who doesn't have those personable skills, can't talk to people, and get along with people, it doesn't matter how qualified they are.”
The best change I made was …
“Making the leap of faith. and taking the opportunity down here. The growth within the company is in Florida; we bought the Brumos dealerships in Jacksonville last April. The stores I have are poised to do very well the next couple of years. Of course, anytime you have kids a move is tougher. My youngest is 15 and a sophomore in high school.”
The most amazing thing about this business is …
“No two days are the same, every day brings different challenges. If you do it right, you make a lot of people happy every day. If you ask any of my employees if they love working here, 99% will say yes. I think if you make people accountable, and you allow them to reach the highest of highs, and help them along the way, it's a fun place to work. We have a very good retention rate; people typically don't leave us unless we want them to leave, and that's not too often.”
What most people don't know about the business is …
“How much people working in it can make. For example qualified technicians are in short supply. A great salesman can make six figures a year, but so can a talented tech. There are businesses in the industry that need 30 to 40 techs, who are paying $5,000 to $8,000 signing bonuses. It's crazy. The problem is we don't train technicians in school. Take this area for example – less than 70% of high school graduates go on to college, but there isn't a lot of training for those that don't.”
Next year I look forward most to …
“Record growth across all our brands for 2017 and planning to build our new Volvo dealership. Personally, I look forward to things getting down and running a lot more smoothly after all the changes in the past couple of years. I'd like to be able to do a little more fishing.”
When I was little, I wanted to be …
“A Cincinnati Red. Our next door neighbor was an executive producer for NBC Sports, so I hung around that team for years, I was in the dugout and the clubhouse. They knew me and I knew them on a first-name basis. I thought every kid grew up that way. I was a shortstop until I met Johnny Bench, then I became a catcher. I was actually a very good baseball player and could have played college. My coach told me he needed 10½ months of my life every year. I decided I'd rather have fun, The dedication you need for sports was too much, and now it's even more.”
“I think if you make people accountable, and you allow them to reach the highest of highs, and help them along the way, it's a fun place to work.”
- 1050 N. Tomoka Farms Road, Daytona Beach
- General Manager: Steve McDonald
- What they do: Fields Auto Group is North America's premier luxury auto group with 32 franchises in 20 locations ranging from Florida to British Columbia. The local Fields operation includes BMW, MINI Cooper, Volvo and VW dealerships at the Auto Mall and a collision center. Everyone who purchases or leases a vehicle from Fields Auto Group is entitled to complimentary loaner vehicles for service appointments and free car washes for the life of the vehicle.
- Origins: Born in Cincinnati, Steve McDonald moved to Chicago when he was 13. He left the GM job in Fields' flagship dealership in Chicago to manage the Daytona Beach operations in 2013. Fields BMW moved to it's current location in 2015. This year they added the MINI dealership, and purchased Volvo of Daytona.
- Awards: BMW Car Club Dealer of the Year, BMW Customer Service Leader, VW North America Customer Service Leader.
By the Numbers
10 Years in business in Daytona Beach
86 Employees as of September 2015
105 Employees as of September 2016
30% Increase in revenue Jan. - Sept. 2016 compared to same period in 2015
18% Increase in net profits Jan. - Sept. 2016 compared to same period in 2015
6th in country for overall performance for BMW