Sonic Automotive CEO Scott Smith leaves post abruptly

  • Push-out Score suggests push-out forces
  • After about three years in the position
  • Praise and thanks for Scott Smith
  • David Smith taking over
  • Scott Smith will remain as employee at Sonic Automotive
  • Scott Smith said 73 words

(exechange) — Charlotte, North Carolina, September 26, 2018 — Scott Smith, chief executive of Sonic Automotive, leaves the position. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Sonic Automotive, Inc. in a news release on Wednesday, September 26, 2018, B.Scott Smith has left his post as Chief Executive Officer at the automotive retailer after about three years in the role, effective September 24, 2018.

Among the 3,000 largest publicly held companies incorporated in the U.S. based on market capitalization, the average tenure of the CEOs who departed over the past 12 months was 9 years, according to data compiled by exechange.

Scott Smith’s duties were taken over by David Bruton Smith, most recently Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Strategic Officer of Sonic Automotive, Inc.

Scott Smith’s move is part of a management shake-up also involving the position of President.

“To spend more time with his family”

The management change is explained as follows. Sonic Automotive said: “Mr. B. Scott Smith, the Company’s Co-Founder, resigned as Chief Executive Officer and President of the Company and as a member of its board of directors, effective September 24, 2018, to take on a new role with the Company and to spend more time with his family after having served for over 21 years as a director and an executive officer of the Company.”

The phrase “to spend more time with his family” opens the door to speculation.

Scott Smith will remain as employee at Sonic Automotive

“Mr. Smith will remain an employee in his capacity as Co-Founder of the Company to ensure a smooth leadership transition and to provide strategic advice to the Company’s leadership team,” Sonic Automotive said.

Alarm signal

Generally speaking, it is often an alarm signal for stockholders when a CEO leaves the post abruptly and without an understandable explanation.

Share price decline

The change follows a decline in the share price of Sonic Automotive, Inc. since December 2014.

Chaired by O.Bruton Smith

Sonic Automotive, Inc. is chaired by O.Bruton Smith.

O.Bruton Smith is the Founder of Sonic. He is also the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and a director of Sonic and has served as such since Sonic’s organization in January 1997, and he is also a director and executive officer of many of Sonic’s subsidiaries. Smith has worked in the retail automobile industry since 1966.

In the position of CEO since 2015

B.Scott Smith is a Co-Founder of Sonic Automotive Inc. and has been its President since March 13, 2007 and Chief Executive Officer since July 27, 2015.

Prior to his appointment as Chief Executive Officer in July 2015, Smith had served as President and Chief Strategic Officer of Sonic since March 2007.

Prior to that, Smith served as Sonic’s Vice Chairman and Chief Strategic Officer from October 2002 to March 2007 and President and Chief Operating Officer from April 1997 to October 2002.

Smith has been a director of Sonic since its organization in January 1997.

Smith also serves as a director and executive officer of many of Sonic’s subsidiaries.

Smith, who is the son of O. Bruton Smith and the brother of David Bruton Smith, has been an executive officer of Town & Country Ford since 1993, and was a minority owner of both Town & Country Ford and Fort Mill Ford before Sonic’s acquisition of those dealerships in 1997.

Smith became the General Manager of Town & Country Ford in November 1992 where he remained until his appointment as President and Chief Operating Officer of Sonic in April 1997.

Smith has over 28 years of experience in the automobile dealership industry.

Push-out Score suggests push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Scott Smith’s sudden move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by exechange suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the change.

Read the full story in the exechange report 40.2018 ($).