Growing one of the nation's foremost auto retailers is one thing, sustaining it into the future is another.
As Lithia Motors continues to reach revenue, earnings and other milestones, CEO Bryan DeBoer is just as interested in attracting coming generations of customers and employees.
"About a quarter of our customers are under 30, and that consumer segment is growing," DeBoer said Wednesday, shortly after announcing another round of record revenue and earnings. "We want our staff to mirror our consumers and be tech savvy."
The Medford-based auto retailer reported 2016 revenue of $8.7 billion, a 10 percent gain over its $7.9 billion 2015 figure, while net income for the year grew 7.7 percent to $197 million, or $7.72 per share, from $183 million, or $6.91 per share, in 2015.
As the numbers grow, DeBoer sees the value in attracting younger talent.
"It's easy to generalize about any generation, but I think it's important to understand that each person in a generation has their own way of seeing things," DeBoer said. "We want to tailor solutions to meet their needs and not be so rigid. We want to focus on the outcome, and if we're getting results, not be so concerned how we get there."
He said flexible hours and compensation not dependent on commission sales is attractive to younger workers.
"We're allowing them the independence to deal with the electronic parts of our business, via chat, the web or generating activity on social Facebook and Twitter," DeBoer said. "If they can develop strategies themselves, they can work without commission or at home."
The under-30 demographic represents an educated and more independent generation, he said.
"They have beliefs in what they want to accomplish, and to be fair they will accomplish it," DeBoer said. "We want to figure out how we can adapt to them so they can make a difference with the company."
Lithia produced double-digit growth in used-vehicle sales and record performance in finance and interest, with 60 locations attaining record profitability last year.
"We will continue to target gaining market share and controlling costs to improve store performance in 2017 and beyond,” DeBoer said.
The company entered the year on a strong note.
Fourth-quarter revenue jumped 15 percent to $2.3 billion from $2 billion for the similar period in 2015. Lithia's profit grew 7.5 percent to $51.3 million, or $2.03 per share, during the final quarter of the year from $47.7, or $1.80 per share.
During the fourth quarter, total same-store sales grew 5 percent, new-vehicle store sales rose 4 percent and used-vehicle sales rose 11 percent.
For all of 2016, same-store sales rose 5 percent, new-vehicle sales were up 3 percent and used sales grew 11 percent.
Lithia Motors shares were trading at $104.24, up $2.44, at midday.
— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31