Maximum Overdrive - Page 4 of 5

Maximum Overdrive

at home putting together a game plan — a bottom-up formula for controlling cash flow and expenses. He changed inventory, pay plans, pricing, and advertising.

“I can’t control 0% financing. I can’t control the market. I can’t control how business is doing in the region. I control those things I know I can to guarantee I’m successful,” says Boyland. “So, I didn’t have to carry 200 Chryslers on the ground when my 45-day supply was only 100.” That strategy has worked and Gresham Dodge has operated in the black every year since.

Boyland doesn’t go looking for opportunities; they come to him. In 2000, he was awarded a letter of intent (LOI) new open point for the Honda dealership, which meant he would be able to build his own dealership from the ground up rather than acquire one that had already been established.

Boyland credits his ability to generate cash to his philosophy of making and saving money. For example, he sold Boyland Toyota, in Redding, California, after a year in business. The profits from that sale contributed to the capital he needed to increase his store count.

Return on investment is the deal breaker for Boyland, says Dan Kaiser, a partner with Astoria Ford and vice president of Beaverton Nissan, All Star Ford, and Boyland Honda. Kaiser was once Boyland’s boss at Ron Tonkin’s dealership. Since 1995 he has been working in partnership with Boyland. “His background is in accounting. He was a numbers guy and could concentrate on net profits,” adds Kaiser. With the exception of Gresham Dodge, all of the dealerships have an invested general manager and partner. (Boyland would not disclose the amount of their financial stake.)

Like the commitment he made to Honda, Boyland plans to make sunny Florida his new home to run his Mercedes-Benz dealership, which he calls a triple play: “It’s a luxury car franchise, it’s [an] LOI new open point, and it’s located in Orlando.”

Scheduled for completion in 2004, the Mercedes dealership is in partnership with AutoNation, a Fortune 500 firm and the largest car dealer in the U.S. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based company owns about 375 new vehicle franchises in 17 states. Boyland’s stake is 51%. His initial cash investment will be about $3 million of the more than $11 million estimated cost. The rest will be financed.

“We are delighted that Dorian has been given the opportunity to become a member of the Mercedes-Benz family,” says Sheila Vaden-Williams, president of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers in Washington, D.C. “This is significant in the face of challenges in getting a proportion of high-line luxury franchises owned by minorities even though, on average, sales of about 25% of their cars are to people of color.”

Boyland grows excited when discussing business strategies. “You have to have a passion for this business,” he says. “There’s a lot of money to be made and a lot of money to be lost. But whether you are selling cars or shoes, you go into business to make money.