Lane Fortinberry grew up working at his father’s Chrysler Jeep dealership in Clarkston, where he learned all aspectsF deals. After graduating from Northwood University in Midland, he was ready to take over the business once his father retired, but his life took unexpected turns that paved the way for an entrepreneurial journey.
When Chrysler went bankrupt in 2009, dealership Fortinberrys was one ofF Over 700 locations that have been closed as part of oF government controlled procedures. During the same week, the family learned that a former business associate and used car broker had embezzled nearly $1 million to start a business to convert minivans for wheelchairs.
“Not a fun week,” Fortinberry said. “We quickly sued and seized all of this company’s assets and moved them to our dealership in Clarkston, and began converting minivans for wheelchairs within months.”
At the same time, Fortinberry began moonlighting as a social media marketer for a few local car dealerships in Detroit. Two years later, in 2012, he received a message from a recruiter on LinkedIn informing him that the newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (now Stellantis) company was looking to fill a newly created position as a digital marketing manager. After interviewing at the automaker’s Chicago office, he was offered the job on the spot.
“It was at FCA that I was able to work very closely with a few people from Google on a regular basis, and 18 months later I ended up applying and was hired to go work at Google,” he said. recalls Fortinberry. “I literally could barely breathe when the recruiter called me on a winter Friday afternoon oF 2013.”
Working in local Google offices in Birmingham and Detroit, he has seen firsthand how automakers spend billions of dollars on advertising each year. Plus, over the next seven years, he learned how the biggest car dealership groups got into the market with their advertising programs.
“From these two experiences, one thing became very clear: there was a big disconnect between the priorities oF equipment manufacturers, who finance a lot oF the digital marketing of the dealership that is executed and the priorities oF the dealers themselves,” says Fortinberry. “The dealers all wanted to innovate in the areas whereF mobile and video, but they were handcuffed to “preferred partners” who ran their digital media, often with little or no customer service and almost no idea of their actual ROI on the money spent. »
After hearing dealerships complain for a year about not having good video options and not being able to properly measure their advertising effectiveness on a myriad of online tools, Fortinberry launched Formatic Digital in Clarkston early in 2021.
The company serves digital ads across all of Google’s platforms (search, YouTube, display ads, Gmail, etc.) and leverages artificial intelligence to optimize ads using data from advanced measurement systems put in place for customers.
“We also solved a problem faced by dealerships by creating a national team of actors and videographers who can be at any dealership in the country in a week, filming high-quality video content that surpasses all others.F ‘template’ ads with payments or discounts pushed by OEM ‘preferred suppliers’,” he says. “Essentially, we became the local TV crew for the whole country.”
Today, Formatic Digital has multiple dealer customers in three states. The company recently signed a contract with a large corporate client that provides service, warranties and financing products to auto dealerships nationwide. “I am very proud to have been able to do everything oF this and keep it in the Detroit metro,” says Fortinberry.