AutoNation chief Mike Jackson is stepping down

After leading the US’s largest dealership chain for nearly two decades, AutoNationChief Executive Mike Jackson will step down from the role next year. Jackson will transition from his current role to executive chairman in 2019.

The company has announced that the board has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to find a successor, and will consider both internal and external candidates, a press release said.

Jackson, who has been known to challenge automakers publicly, grew up in an Irish-American family and started his career in the auto industry by fixing cars at a Mercedes dealership. Later he moved up the ranks to join the German luxury brand and became the President of Mercedes’s US operations in 1992, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In 1999, AutoNation hired Jackson to solidify the company’s position in the automotive-retail sector and build its credibility on Wall Street. During his tenure, he also led and transformed its digital strategy. AutoNation has over 325 locations from coast to coast and became the first automotive retailer to sell over 11 million vehicles.

“The Company is ready for its next chapter,” Jackson said in the press release. “While the Board commences its succession process, we will remain focused on delivering a peerless customer experience and executing our Brand Extension and digital strategies.”

AutoNation shares are down 15.8% this year.

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