AutoCanada Inc. has hired away two AutoNation Inc. managers, naming one of them as its new president to head Canadian operations, following the departure of Michael Rawluk on March 3.
Jeffrey Thorpe, market president for Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based AutoNation, will take over oversight of publicly-traded AutoCanada’s 60 Canadian dealerships as president of those operations, the Edmonton, Alberta firm said Friday.
AutoCanada Executive Chair Paul Antony said Thorpe has “proven himself” scaling organizations and has both the vision and business acumen to keep the dealership group’s momentum going.
“His significant industry expertise and experience operating a dealership platform at scale using centralized services through [a] head office, which closely mirrors AutoCanada’s operating rhythm, will be an excellent addition to our executive team,” Antony said in a release.
Thorpe previously steered AutoNation’s operations across several markets in the Midwest and Western U.S., including Colorado, Minnesota, Chicago, Cleveland, Northern California and Los Angeles. The more than 24-year AutoNation veteran will relocate from Denver to Edmonton.
AutoCanada also named Brian Feldman, domestic market brand president at AutoNation, as senior vice president of Canadian operations and disruptive technologies, reporting to Thorpe. He had worked in numerous roles at AutoNation for more than 18 years, according to his LinkedIn profile, and in 2014 was named a 40 Under 40 honoree by Automotive News.
Prior to AutoNation, Feldman worked for Ford Motor Co.
AutoCanada also said it appointed Lee Wittick as senior vice president of operations and OEM relations. Wittick joins AutoCanada from Toronto’s Humberview Group. Most recently, he was managing partner at Applewood Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick-GMC and Mississauga Kia, two of the dealership group’s 21 locations.
With the American auto market “ahead of Canada by five years,” Antony added, AutoCanada expects to leverage best practices from Thorpe and Feldman to supplement the current playbook at the dealership group’s Canadian locations.
AutoCanada operates 78 new-vehicle dealerships in both Canada and the United States where it has dealerships in Illinois.
AutoNation ranks No. 1 on Automotive News’ list of the top 150 dealership group based in the U.S., retailing 262,403 new-vehicles in 2021.
Melissa Burden contributed to this report.