Arlan Tarhan was born in Samsun/Turkey to a family of three brothers and a sister. Arlan’s father was a reputable attorney and also served as a senator in the Turkish Parliament. He completed his high school education at a private school with a 100% English language curriculum in Ankara; the Capitol of Turkey. Throughout the entire high school, Arlan was an honor student consistently. Arlan obtained his BA in advertising at the University of Istanbul in 1975. Later in 1976, he received his MBA from the same University as a marketing major.
In 1976 he joined Fiat Motors of Turkey as a service manager trainee and went through extensive technical and management training provided by the manufacturer. In 1977 he was appointed as the Northern Region Distribution Center Manager for Turkish Fiat where he remained until 1979.
Via Fiat S.P.A in Torino/ Italy, Arlan was selected for a special project assignment to come to the United States for technical assistance on fuel injected products for which he had become an expert. Later in 1979 Fiat Motors of North America offered Arlan a permanent position as a technical instructor for the Eastern Region which started his career in America.
In 1980 he was promoted to the position of training manager for the Western Region in Cypress California. Through 1982, until Fiat withdrew from the U.S. Market, Arlan served as a district service manager and a regional service manager for the North American Fiat.
Arlan turned down a relocation offer by Fiat in 1983 to the Brazilian Division and instead started a Fiat Authorized Parts and Service Center in Irvine California called The Autostrada Motorworks Inc. Autostrada expanded to become a parts distribution center for Fiat products for the Southern California market.
Tarhan sold his company in 1986 and accepted a position as a Parts and Service Director for the Vasek Polak organization with the BMW, Audi, Porsche, Saab and Subaru franchises in Hermosa Beach California. In his tenacious desire to make a difference in retail processes, Arlan started working on the sales floor of the Porsche dealership in the evenings in order to learn and evaluate the retail process. Within three months he was promoted to be the General Sales Manager of this dealership.
Arlan contributed to the growth and improved sales processes of this dealership through 1988. With his passion to pioneer a different sales philosophy, he resigned his position with the Vasek Polak organization in early 1989 and started The Car Butler Company, a membership society which provided after sales catering and concierge services to busy professionals and upscale clientele. Tarhan displayed the first version of today’s buying services much before the Internet companies through his concept of the Car Butler. He retailed or leased various new vehicles to his members over a two year period.
He was asked by Vasek Polak to return to the organization in 1991 as the Vice President of Operations of all franchises which now also included VW. Tarhan took over the operations of then financially troubled dealerships and returned them to profitability and record sales in two years. He then became the president of the company and took over as the dealer operator when Polak decided to step down. During the time period that lasted until Vasek Polak’s death in 1997, Vasek Polak organization was recognized as a Premier Dealer by Porsche, number one CSI dealer by BMW and VW and number one in sales volume in Audi and Saab franchises in numerous occasions. During this time Arlan also served as a National Dealer Council Member for Audi and participated in the distribution system developments of the manufacturer and served in a committee for early product evaluation.
In 1998, following Vasek Polak’s death Arlan agreed to part company with the trustee owners of the company and pursued other ownership opportunities.
1999 through parts of 2000 Arlan worked for an investment group as an acquisition consultant and conducted due diligence projects and prepared buy/sell agreements. Later that year he joined Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. as a Regional Franchise Development Manager for the Western Region. During his time with Mitsubishi he contributed to the appointment and approval of many key retailers in the Region. He also provided consultation and guidance to the dealer body in the Western Region.
Arlan left Mitsubishi to pursue a retail store opportunity in 2003 and continued his consulting practice with several Southern California and Bay area retailers of Mitsubishi, Infiniti, Mazda and VW franchises until he was hired by the Superior Automotive Group as the Vice President of Corporate Development in September of 2003. Arlan became the Chief Operating Officer of Superior Automotive Group in February of 2004. During his tenure, he streamlined the entire operations of this young company. He facilitated the restructuring of all the business and finance offices under each dealership entity prior to which had been centralized. Hired and trained general managers and established a new discipline of sales and customer service process and launched an unprecedented branding campaign for the company. Two year in a row two of the Nissan dealerships won the Owners First Award and ranked in the top 10 and 20 of approximately 1000 Nissan dealerships in the United States. Arlan also built a respectable profitability and return on investment for the company which reflected an overall 3% net to revenue profits in 2004 and 2005.
Arlan resigned as the COO of Superior at the end of 2005 to pursue a franchise opportunity on his own. He then obtained a letter of intent to open a Hyundai franchise in Downey California. He later decided not to continue with the project due to financial reasons and uncertainties that surrounded the US economy.
During all of his years in the automotive retail industry as a leader, he continuously made efforts to make a difference in the retail processes which to him always lacked credibility and respect that this vast industry deserved. He developed curriculum and conducted lectures and training seminars for large groups of sales professionals in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of the sales force in the communities that he served.
He believed that the future of automotive retailing would have to rely on technology and processes that are fundamentally geared towards helping customers and simplifying the purchase experience.
Arlan believes that the 21st century will set the stage to move the auto industry to the technology era where state of the art showrooms and high tech equipment and processes will dominate the market and define successful auto retailers under a new category of integrity, credibility and respect.