Deric Kalamitsiotis – President Of Dealers Resource Center:
Behind The Scenes
Dealers Resource Center President Deric Kalamitsiotis grew up in the Automotive world. It was almost pre-destined that he would end up sitting atop a company that specializes in Finance and Insurance involving cars. Deric took a few minutes recently from his extremely busy schedule to sit down and talk about his life, what his responsibilities are and what he sees ahead for Dealers Resource Center and the automotive industry.
DRC: How did you get started in the car business?
Deric: My Dad (Lee Kalamitsiotis, President Emeritus) has been in the automotive business since 1978 so I grew up in the business. In high school, I started as a Porter, cleaning cars and from there I went to selling cars before working in Finance and Insurance. I came back to work with my dad, Lee, and my desire was to become a third-party administrator where we could take the best of different programs that Lee had. We wanted to take the best of those features and combine them into one program. Because of my background as an F&I Director, I was able to design a program from a Finance Manager’s perspective. My thinking was, what was I missing when I was an F&I guy and what could I sell to a customer? So, that is how we designed our program.
I’ve additionally worked for a large public company as a Regional Finance Director where I oversaw 17 stores and between 30 and 45 F&I Managers at any given time. I was also on the acquisitions team, which meant I had to do the due diligence when looking at a possible new dealership purchase. I found that in the purchasing process, our goal wasn’t to come in and clean up the store and bring in a new team. We wanted to keep the team as they were presently situated. We’re buying for the people not just the dealership. That was extremely important because I was able to learn from great leaders, including CEOs, that it is not about coming in and changing the team. It’s about keeping the team that’s in place and working through making processes better. Not coming in and being super disruptive.
DRC: It is interesting to hear about the process of buying individual stores. Is that something in the future for DRC?
Deric: We’re looking right now for small to medium size dealerships that we can purchase and bring into our portfolio. We’re not only looking at it from the aspect of purchasing the dealership, but we are also looking for qualified General Managers that might be eligible to be a Dealer Principal. Dealers Resource Center would be behind the scenes helping with the finances including down payment deposits to get a store up and running operationally.
DRC: Some of your agents have spoken about the future in the second half of 2022. What do you see happening the remainder of this year?
Deric: What I am hearing is that the market is slowing down a little bit on Domestics and Imports as well as highline/luxury automotives. The plus side to this is we’re going to start seeing newer car inventory coming in. Ultimately, it will level out because people for the last couple of years have been buying pre-owned cars because dealerships did not have new car inventory. So now we are going to see somewhat of a rush on new car business, which means that the market is going to get some pre-owned cars, but it will drive down the values of the cars.
At this point, we see it could be good or bad for losses on GAP (guaranteed auto protection) Insurance. Because right now the value of the cars selling is really high. But now if the market gets flooded, with new or pre-owned cars, that is going to drive that value of that car down more dramatically. But if there’s a GAP claim, it’s going to be larger than normal. We are going to see an increase in GAP losses, which means it’s a good opportunity right now to look at a new GAP provider.
DRC: What do you see happening with supply and demand?
Deric: Demand is going to slow, and we are going to see supply increase which should level out the market. But with the interest rates going up, the higher dollar car customer might wait because they have really great credit. However, the near-prime or sub-prime customer is still going to have a desire to buy a car. They are still going to need them, and because they can handle the higher interest rate, it won’t affect their payment as much.
DRC: What is an average day for the President of a nationwide company and what are your responsibilities?
Deric: We work with all of our agents across 45 states nearly daily, servicing accounts and seeking additional business. I focus on more business and how it is generated. We’ve doubled our states in the last two years. We’re trying to make an impact into all these different regions and through a couple of different channels, one being referrals and the other being people that reach out to us directly. We are out in the field looking for dealers and agents. That is my primary focus right now. I travel often, meeting with our agents and reps who set up appointments. We do this on a weekly basis to help with signing new business. When I am at the St. Louis headquarters, I do have to focus on the office but, that’s primarily handled by our VP of Operations, Michael Kalamitsiotis.
DRC: Tell us a little bit of your personal life and what you like to do when not focusing on F&I and the automotive industry?
Deric: I have been married for eight years to my lovely wife, Kalie, and we have three girls, Cooper, Crosby, and Briar. We also have two mastiffs, Pearl and Fiona and a cat. We live in a small town outside of St. Louis and we enjoy hanging out especially on the weekends together whether it’s on the water or blowing up a pool in our driveway for the kids. We have lots of busy activities for the girls all the time.
DRC: It’s fair to say, not only are you a full-time President, but you are also a full-time Dad!
Deric: (Laughing) Yep. And I like to play golf if I can get the time.