If there’s a hip, trendy-looking Apple Store in your town, you probably have George Blankenship to thank for it. Now, he’s hoping to do the same thing for Tesla.
The spunky electric car-maker announced today that Blankenship, 57, will join the company as vice president of Design and Store Development. He’ll be in charge of further developing Tesla’s boutique dealerships, creating a long-term strategy for retail development and expanding the network beyond its 13 current stores globally. Mimicking his work with Apple, Tesla hopes Blankenship will help draw more customers with showrooms that are “stylish and inviting,” or as Tesla’s press release implies, the opposite of traditional dealerships. Blankenship’s first task will be to open three new stores in Tokyo, Japan, Toronto, Canada, and Washington D.C.
“George has a record of building customer-focused stores that revolutionize their industries, and he does it on time and on budget. There is simply no one better; he is the ideal candidate for Tesla,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. “With George’s leadership, I have no doubt Tesla will have the best retail experience in the auto industry as we continue to grow and prepare to launch the Model S.”
Blankenship, based on the limited biographical information available, apparently got his start at clothing retailer Gap, where he spent 20 years and eventually became the company’s vice president for Real Estate Strategy. Proving himself exceptional at identifying and acquiring prime retail locations, Blankenship was stolen away by Apple Computer in 2000, where he was made vice president of Real Estate. Apple opened its first store a year later and Blankenship’s “Smart Growth Hit List” soon had Apple Stores popping up all over the world. He left Apple in 2007 and most recently consulted with Microsoft on creating a competing network of retail stores for that company’s products.
“Joining Tesla allows me to work with some of the boldest and brightest people on the planet while changing the world for the better,” said Blankenship. “I’m excited to create a retail experience that is as thrilling as my first drive of the Tesla Roadster.”
Tesla’s stock price rose more than 10 percent in after-hours trading to $17.46, rebounding from yesterday when the stock closed at $15.80, well below its IPO price of $17.
By Scott Evans