There’s nothing like a crisis to teach leadership. Craig Monaghan has experienced at least two — one on the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea, and the other in the auto industry, when his company came within an eyelash of shutting the doors.
Monaghan, 55, is CEO of Asbury Automotive Group, the fifth largest publicly traded car retailer in the country, with $4.3 billion in annual revenue from 28 brands sold at dealerships in 10 states. The Duluth-based firm nearly failed during the Great Recession when lenders could have demanded $500 million it didn’t have. Monaghan talks about what he learned from leading people through nerve-wracking events in business and the military.
Q: Your company was in critically bad financial shape. Would you please discuss?
A: In 2008 and 2009, our stock was trading at $2 a share and a lot of people had written us off as goners. Our debt of $500 million was 5.5 times our cash flow, which is a very dangerous level.