POSITION: General manager, Germain Honda of Dublin, Dublin, Ohio
Jessica Germain practiced law for several years but found she could not resist the pull of the family business.
She was involved in the family's central Ohio dealership group during high school and college and missed the action on the showroom floor. So she returned to her roots and for the past three years has been general manager of Germain Honda.
"Practicing law is isolated work, in that it's a lot of reading and research," said Germain, who in one case got involved in winding down a local Chevy dealership during the GM bankruptcy.
She says her colleagues knew "it was only a matter of time" before she returned to retail.
On occasion, Germain's legal training comes in handy at the dealership.
"It gives me a perspective of understanding our potential liabilities that are created through our mistakes, and the customer's experience," Germain said. "The customer is always right, so I need to find a way to say, 'Yes.' But my background allows me to know to what extent I'll go to help the customer."
Jessica is the fourth generation of Germains to sell cars; it started with her great-grandfather's Mercury dealership in Columbus, Ohio, in 1947.
Last year, Germain Honda's sales rose 42 percent to 2,904 new units, and it was third in the United States in certified used sales.
Germain wants to bring more women into the car business. Since she started, the percentage of female employees has risen from 6 percent to 18 percent of the total at the Honda store. The dealership has mom-friendly working hours and multiple career paths for women.
Married this year, Germain brings her dog, Jet, to work daily. Jet even stars in some Germain Honda commercials. Germain wants to become Germain Motor Co.'s CEO after her father retires and to raise the group's holdings from 12 dealerships to 20. Last year, the group sold 15,833 new and used vehicles, with total revenues of $524 million. Germain Motor Co. ranks No. 94 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 dealership groups in the United States.
"I strive to create a dealership that is unlike any other," Germain said. "I want to dispel all the negative stereotypes associated with buying cars and create a consumer-centric sales process that is easy and efficient."
-- Mark Rechtin