JM Family succession plan as Heathcott announces upcoming retirement
JM Family Enterprises revealed a major executive succession plan on Wednesday, stemming from JM&A Group president Forrest Heathcott announcing he will retire on March 31, culminating a company career spanning nearly 30 years.
On deck to fill Heathcott’s role is fellow JM Family executive Dan Chait, who currently is president of sister company Southeast Toyota Finance (SETF), beginning on Jan. 1.
In addition to maintaining his current position along with his newly expanded roll., the company said in news release that Chait will continue reporting to Brent Burns, president and chief executive officer of JM Family.
“JM&A has the best associates and dealer partners in the business, and I have full confidence in Dan to lead this great company as we plan for JM&A Group’s future and its continued success,” Heathcott said.
Heathcott joined JM Family in 1993 and has held positions at three of the company’s subsidiaries — JM&A Group, Southeast Toyota Distributors and Southeast Toyota Finance. He took on his current role of president of JM&A Group, one of the largest independent providers of F&I products and services in the industry during 2007.
“As president of JM&A Group, Forrest has led the team passionately, with strong vision, always staying steps ahead in the F&I industry,” Burns said. “Clearly understanding the needs of today’s dealer and driving the business based on the guidepost that our success is measured by the dealer’s success, the team has been able to consistently deliver on its goals.
“A true, hands-on leader, Forrest thinks not only about the business, but about our associates first, as is the JM Family way. While Forrest will be missed, we are excited about his next chapter and those adventures he will now have time to take,” Burns said.
Chait joined SETF in 2002 as vice president of asset management. In 2007, he became group vice president responsible for the company’s portfolio management, dealer services, operations, sales and marketing functions. In 2011, Chait was named senior vice president, and in 2012 became president.
The company highlighted Chait has 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, holding senior-level positions with US Airways, AutoNation and UniCapital Corp.
In order to ensure a seamless transition, the company indicated Chait will begin shadowing Heathcott and the JM&A Group leadership team in the coming months, engrossing himself in the business nuances and its ongoing initiatives, as well as meeting and connecting with dealer partners.
Beginning Jan. 1, Chait will assume full responsibility for leading JM&A Group and SETF, with Heathcott moving to the role of strategic advisor to accelerate Chait’s learning curve and support his long-term success.
“Dan has the full backing of JM&A Group’s senior management, who value his partnership and respect the success he’s built at Southeast Toyota Finance,” Burns said. “After nearly two decades with JM Family, Dan has proven himself to be a strong leader, a team player and a true ambassador of our culture.”
Providing Chait with added support, Bill Shope, a SETF associate since 1990, has been promoted to senior vice president and COO of Southeast Toyota Finance and will lead the company’s day-to-day operations.
In recent years, the company highlighted Shope has been integral to the development of SETF’s advanced analytics capabilities and risk management approach, “which has enabled the company to expand the level of support it offers Toyota dealers in the Southeast and launched a wave of growth in the business that continues today.”