Reynolds leaders said they are moving away from the centralized leadership style Brockman used to a more decentralized system in which a committee of executives makes decisions alongside Barras. Brockman announced the executive committee structure when Barras was appointed president and COO in June 2020, according to a company memo he sent that was included in federal court records. A Reynolds spokesperson confirmed that Barras has led the committee since it was formed and has, over time, adjusted how it operates.
Barras split the role of president and COO between Walsh and Willie Daughters, the former executive vice president of operations who is now COO. That change has been in place for about a year.
On the product side, Reynolds plans to continue buying companies to expand its portfolio. Walsh said several acquisitions are planned for 2023, but he declined to share details of potential companies or product segments. Recent acquisitions include Proton Dealership IT, a dealership information technology and cybersecurity service provider, in July, and Gubagoo in June 2021.
Matthew Gillrie, owner of the Gillrie Institute, which advises dealerships on dealership management system contract negotiations, said he senses that Reynolds is trying to be a better dealership partner and has become more willing to negotiate on pricing.
“I do believe they want to make it better, I really do, and I think that they are trying to put the right things in place,” he said. “Big ships don’t turn quickly. It’s a huge amount of things that need to be shifted, and it’s a cultural change.”
Edwards said Reynolds’ actions will be what improves relationships — one dealer, automaker and vendor at a time.
“That’s not something that we can flip the switch on overnight,” she said. “But do I think the evidence of all of that good work the last couple of years is improving? Absolutely.”