Newport Beach, CA, May 5, 2011 – John P. Honiotes, a lifelong auto industry executive who led the adoption of Internet car sales in dealerships across the nation, died May 3, 2011 in Newport Beach, CA, where he lived. He was 63.
Honiotes, named by Automotive News as one of the 10 most innovative individuals in the industry for building one of the nation’s most technologically sophisticated dealerships, was the original national sales director at Autobytel.com. He was the first to introduce dealerships to the concept of Internet car sales, and the Internet department model he developed continues as the norm in dealerships across the country today. Additionally, he formulated the first Internet training programs for dealerships and was instrumental in creating the first Web-based customer relations management (CRM) system.
“John was a true automotive Internet pioneer and helped shape the careers of an entire generation of automotive leaders,” said Dale Pollak, founder of vAuto.
Honiotes was born in Joliet, IL and began his automotive career nearly 40 years ago as a partner in a Dodge-Datsun dealership. In 1980, at age 33, he became the principal in a Cadillac dealership. His lifelong passion for people, cars and technology led him to California where he joined the founding team at Autobytel Inc. and played a significant role in helping the auto industry realize the potential of the Internet.
In 1999, Honiotes built a sophisticated AutoNation USA megastore in the Cleveland-adjacent community of Bedford, OH. The dealership was conceived from the ground up for web-savvy consumers, with design innovations that resulted in the Automotive News award.
He rejoined Autobytel in 2002 as vice president of automotive operations, where he oversaw the continuing development of the company’s dealer network.
Recently, he served as vice president of sales for SpaBooker, the technology division of SpaFinder, Inc., and as an automotive consultant. Continuing his passion for cars and people, he founded the Honiotes Car Shows, which remain popular events in Southern California. He was also a dedicated supporter of the U.S. Marine Corps’ annual “Toys for Tots” program.
“Without question, John introduced me to more people and automotive technology, that have been instrumental to my success, than anyone in the industry,” said Bill Krouse, marketing director of Polar Chevrolet Mazda, MN, and president of Krouse Consulting. “He always put the needs of others ahead of his own.”
John Honiotes’ father, Pete J. Honiotes, preceded him in death. He is survived by mother, Mary, his fiancée, Shari Malatesta, sisters Gail (Jerry) Austin, Lainie (Archie) Jenkins and Barb Honiotes and brothers George (Denet), Jim (Mary Jo) and Pete (Sally). He is also survived by his daughter Tanna (John) Mee and grandsons: John, Sean and Gavin Mee.
A memorial service and a foundation in his memory are being planned; details will be announced at a later date.