The Game Plan

Dorian Boyland (Photo by Ryan Ketterman)

Dorian Boyland (Photo by Ryan Ketterman)

Dorian S. Boyland, CEO of Boyland Auto Group (No. 4 on the BE Auto Dealers list with $315 million in revenues) can say something few people in the automotive industry can say: His company just had its best year ever. Not only are revenues at the Orlando-based chain of dealerships expected to exceed $400 million for 2011, but net profits are expected to exceed $10 million—and the professional baseball player turned automotive mogul couldn’t be happier.

Over the last few years, Boyland (who was Black Enterprise’s Automotive Dealer of the Year in 2003) and his management team made some painful decisions to stay in the black. With nine dealerships in five states, Boyland Auto Group had overhead costs that were tremendous. With the economy at its worst in 2008, management assumed a proactive stance. “We needed to make the same amount of money even if there was a 20% decrease in revenues,” says Boyland. So adjustments were made in headcount, benefits, assets—including new and used cars, and salaries. Boyland also sold his two least profitable locations.

Those painful moves are now paying exceptional dividends. Though the health of the economy remains uncertain, new vehicle sales for Boyland Auto Group, which sells Dodge, Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Hyundai, are on the rise; revenues for 2011 rose some 28% from 2010 to more than $400 million, and net profits rose more than 30% over 2010. In an environment where many African American auto dealers faced bankruptcies or were forced to close by manufacturers responding to reduced demand, Boyland Auto Group is prospering—sending a message that while black dealerships may still be reeling, they’re not down for the count.

From Starting Lineup to Bottom Line
Boyland, a nearly 30-year veteran of the automotive business, began his professional career in a much different arena. A second-round draft pick in 1976 for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the 6-foot-4-inch first baseman and graduate of the University of Wisconsin was part of the team that won the 1979 World Series. Boyland retired from professional baseball in 1983 and decided to put to work his bachelor’s degree in business administration and computer science. While contemplating a job offer—systems analyst with chipmaker Intel Corp.—Boyland received a call from Ron Tonkin, owner of one of the largest auto dealer groups in the U.S. and a past president of the National Automobile Dealers Association. He offered Boyland a sales position at a dealership in Portland, Oregon.

Boyland loved the business and within two months was promoted to assistant manager. He relished the competitive environment and faced new customers the way he had faced new pitchers. In 1985, Boyland and Tonkin went into business together and acquired a pre-existing Dodge dealership (of which Boyland owned 30%). “Dorian is a very driven, successful guy with vision,” says Dan Kaiser, who also sold cars with Boyland in the early ’80s and is now a partner in four of his dealerships. “He’s got the moxie and savvy to put deals together. I was kind of the operator guy. Dorian could put all the deals together and I would help him operate the deals.”

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