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DEALER, PUBLICLY HELD: Mike Jackson, CEO, AutoNation Inc.
 
Nearly a year ago, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson launched the companyís online storefront, reducing its reliance on third-party lead providers. In July, Jackson loudly severed relations with TrueCar, reigniting industry debate on the role of such services. And the dealership giant, the largest new-car retailer in the nation, is the better for it, Jackson touts.

Sales from AutoNationís sites are up, and those from third parties are down significantly. After Jackson walked away from what he described as the companyís most unprofitable business, AutoNationís new-car gross profits in the third quarter rose, bucking industry trends.

Itís been a busy year for the 66-year-old Jackson. After outspoken criticism of the industryís recall performance, Jackson in midsummer grounded AutoNation vehicles with open recalls. The industry-leading policy makes some dealers uncomfortable ó the National Automobile Dealers Association is not a fan. But though AutoNation is now buying an added 10,000 vehicles to bolster inventory, Jackson calls it the right thing to do for customers. And thatís not all: Jackson is finishing 2015 with a store acquisition binge bigger than any seen at AutoNation since its formative years. AutoNation has announced deals adding 33 stores and about $1.7 billion in annual revenue. And Jackson says the retailer could wind up busting through the $2 billion mark before year end.