Sonic hires ex-Mazda marketing exec as EchoPark’s first marketing chief

Sonic Automotive Inc. has hired two executives, including a former Mazda marketing boss, for newly created positions at its rapidly expanding EchoPark brand of used-vehicle stores.

Sonic named Dino Bernacchi as chief marketing officer and Thien Truong as chief revenue officer of EchoPark Automotive, reporting to Sonic President Jeff Dyke. The moves are effective Monday.

Bernacchi, 51, had been senior vice president of marketing for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, Sonic noted. Prior to that position, Bernacchi had been Mazda North American Operations’ chief marketing officer for nearly three years before he resigned in March 2020.

He had worked as marketing director of Harley-Davidson Motor Co. prior to Mazda. Bernacchi has also worked at General Motors, Visteon Corp. and Detroit-based advertising firm Campbell Ewald.

“His vast expertise in brand development and marketing is a natural fit with our goal of making EchoPark a nationwide household name synonymous with providing an exceptional guest experience to consumers who shop online or in-store for quality pre-owned vehicles at great prices,” Sonic CEO David Smith said in a statement.

Truong, 51, comes from Brightloom, a software technology company that caters to restaurants, where he also was chief revenue officer.

The new hires arrive at a time of quick growth for EchoPark. There are currently 30 EchoPark used-vehicle stores and delivery centers, but Sonic is aiming to have 140 nationwide by 2025.

Sonic launched EchoPark in 2014 as a used-vehicle store in the Denver market.

In late July, Sonic revealed it was launching a strategic review of its EchoPark used-vehicle operation. One analyst who covers Sonic speculated that the EchoPark review could be the precursor to a spinoff of the rapidly growing business.

Sonic, of Charlotte, N.C., ranked No. 7 on Automotive News‘ most recent list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 93,281 new vehicles in 2020. It retailed 159,025 used vehicles last year, making it No. 6 on Automotive News‘ list of the top 100 used-vehicle retailers.

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