With no family ties to pave the way, Todd Bondy held several dealership management positions before becoming general manager of Murray Motor Imports in Denver in 2007 at age 34. In 2010 he became a shareholder in the company, which has Mercedes-Benz and BMW dealerships.
But the recession produced what Bondy says is his greatest achievement. With the support of owner Mark Murray, Bondy helped to increase the company's net profits 71 percent from 2007 to 2010 -- though new-car sales and revenues fluctuated -- with no employee layoffs or pay cuts.
Murray, Bondy's mentor and friend, died May 25.
Shopping for better deals on things such as office supplies and media buys was imperative during the downturn, Bondy says. But skimping on customer service and employees who provide it is never acceptable, especially for a luxury brand, he says.
"Being in the luxury business, we said our customers are going to be even more demanding, they have an expectation of what luxury looks like, and we'd better continue to deliver on that promise or we're going to risk losing business in the long run," says Bondy, the son of a teacher and an investment banker.
Bondy was a college sophomore studying to become a stockbroker when a part-time job selling men's clothing and two pairs of shoes totaling $500 diverted his career path.
One of his customers had ordered the shoes but never took the time to stop by the store to get them. Determined to earn his commission, Bondy took the shoes to the customer, a sales manager at Brown Honda in Toledo, Ohio. The sales manager was so impressed that he offered the Bowling Green State University student his credit card to pay for the shoes and a job selling cars, right there on the spot. Bondy accepted both.
That assertiveness has served Bondy well. He held sales manager positions at dealerships in Toledo, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, Calif., before landing at Murray Motor Imports. He was general manager of both Murray dealerships until January, when he hired a general manager for the BMW store.
"It was never my plan to be in the car business," Bondy says. "It was a job for me to make good money at while I was in college."
-- Arlena Sawyers