BMW of Riverside leads from the front

Publish Date: 
May 20, 2014

Starting as a new dealership in April 2010, BMW Motorcycles of Riverside produced year-over-year growth figures above and beyond BMW’s already strong numbers. Due to a combination of aggressive leadership, hands-on participation in the sport and the right location, dealer principal Dan Schoo now finds himself at the helm of one of the strongest BMW dealers in the nation.

Schoo didn’t start his career in the industry, but like others that move to the dealership world he found that his background gave him the skills necessary to build his business. “I spent 30 years in the technology world,” Schoo said. “In the middle ‘80s, I started working on Internet-related technologies -- at least eight years before the rest of the world realized there is a such a thing.

“My forte was startups, either starting up new groups inside of companies or working at small companies and getting them big. Eventually, they put a rope around me and pushed me into management.”

Once promoted, Schoo found himself overseeing the many projects and teams he had created at firms like USRobotics and 3Com. As a vice president of engineering or chief technology officer, he managed upwards of 1,700 people around the world, but he always preferred to stay as hands-on as possible. “I always prided myself from leading from the front lines,” he explained. “I never was totally comfortable just sitting at the top, looking down at a bunch of things. If there was a problem in the lab developing a product, I’d be right there with guys, all night long in the lab trying to sort our a solution.

“This management philosophy that I’ve used my entire life fits in perfectly well into a dealership, because it allows me to put my ideas into play in a collaborative environment. I know I’m not the smartest guy in the room most of the time, and I rely on my really good people to figure out, together, what we should do.”

Photos by Joe Bonnello. Bonnello talks about the photo shoot here.

After moving from the Chicago area to Silicon Valley, Schoo looked for a new challenge, if for no other reason than to avoid getting stuck in the cycle of startups and IPOs. While motorcycling was always on his personal radar, Schoo wasn’t able to make the most of the sport in the Midwest. With family in Escondido, Calif., and work often bringing him to Los Angeles and San Diego, Schoo loved to ride in Southern California as his escape. It was during this time that he began to consider opening his own dealership, as well as narrowing down his focus to BMW in particular.

“I’ve always been a ‘work hard, play hard’ kind of guy,” he said. “When I was engaged on serious projects, it was always an all-out effort, then I’d take a break, which typically revolved around backcountry and wilderness adventure motorcycling. BMW was the obvious fit for my riding.

“I got to know some of the dealership owners, so I got some good insight and understanding about what it was all about. I spent time looking at whether I wanted to buy a dealership and change careers,” Schoo said. “I looked at probably eight or 10 dealerships over a five- or six-year period. BMW got to know me during the process.”