Chevy VP Sweeney to head GM dealer operations

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DETROIT — Chevrolet executive Brian Sweeney, who helped lift the brand’s retail market share and is popular among its dealers, will become even more prominent in the retail world as General Motors’ vice president of dealer operations and innovation.

Sweeney, 52, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet sales, service and marketing, will take on the newly created role Nov. 15, GM said Friday. He will lead retail innovation and work with Chevrolet, Buick and GMC dealers to improve customer experience, dealership profitability and the automaker’s relationship with its dealer network.

GM President Mark Reuss and Steve Carlisle, president of Cadillac, will continue to oversee Cadillac’s dealership operations, but any best practices developed under Sweeney will be shared, a GM spokesman said.

Steve Hill, vice president of U.S. sales, service and marketing, will add Chevrolet sales, service and marketing to his responsibilities.

Dealers trust and respect Sweeney based on his track record leading Chevrolet since 2014 and Buick-GMC from 2010 to 2014, said Mike Bowsher, chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council and owner of Carl Black Automotive Group in Kennesaw, Ga. Chevrolet’s retail market share increased most of the years Sweeney was in charge, according to GM.

“He walks into this job with so much respect and clout that I think it’s a position that’s just set up to win,” Bowsher said. “They certainly picked the right person at the right time.”

Sweeney will report to Barry Engle, executive vice president and president of GM North America, and Travis Hester, vice president of global customer experience. Hill, 59, will continue reporting to Engle.

The auto retail industry is evolving as competition heightens, customer expectations evolve and technology advances.

“We will meet these changes head on and we are putting some of our most experienced and accomplished leaders in charge of embracing change and driving innovation,” Engle said in a statement. “Our goals are ambitious but attainable: Make our dealers the most successful in the industry, make our brands even more valuable and drive even higher levels of customer loyalty.”

The new dealer operations and innovation position is important to GM’s future, Bowsher said. GM has said it plans to launch 20 all-electric and fuel cell vehicles globally by 2023.

“I’m excited about Brian Sweeney leading the charge on this,” Bowsher said.

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