Reynolds President Chris Walsh leads company’s new direction


Brett Sutherlin, CEO of Sutherlin Automotive, a dealership group based in Buford, Ga., said his company has worked with Reynolds for more than 20 years. While he hasn’t interacted with Walsh, Reynolds has displayed a new approach since work began on renegotiating the company’s DMS contract this year, Sutherlin said.

“They have been incredibly flexible compared to the Brockman days and have shown a willingness to … be more dealer-centric and have some give-and-take,” Sutherlin told Automotive News.

Sutherlin said he had become frustrated, even reaching out to CDK to begin conversations about switching DMS providers. Then, Reynolds stepped up in a major way.

“They actually flew my team up to Ohio and gave us the red-carpet treatment and started the conversation by letting us know that this is a different Reynolds and Reynolds,” Sutherlin said. “We’re still in the negotiating phase right now, but I doubt we will leave based on everything that I have seen from their senior management in this process.”

Another dealership executive who knows Walsh said his leadership style is a good change for customers.

Robert Taylor, chief information officer for Hendrick Automotive Group, a longtime Reynolds client, said he has worked with Walsh for years and described him as a “calm, jovial individual” with a quiet presence — qualities that help him to be a good leader.

“He comes off as a thinker and a little reserved, but in the role that he’s in, I think that’s a good thing,” Taylor said. “He’s genuine. He’s really interested in understanding what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it, as opposed to someone that may want to tell you how they do it.”

Walsh said he is a good listener and tries to use that to address customer needs and to seek innovations in both products and processes. Many people have helped fuel innovation at Reynolds, he said, including Brockman, who pushed the company to prioritize inventive products in ways that previous leadership and ownership had not.

“Our products were not as good as he made them, and we were not a very innovative company” before the merger, Walsh said. Brockman “drove a lot of that into our organization, which we’re benefiting from now. And we’re trying to take that legacy of innovation and continue forward with it in our own way as we go to market.”



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