Cyndie Mynatt admits she never dreamed of working in the auto industry. And she certainly never envisioned working closely with her brother, either. But when she was ready to go back to work in 1985 after the birth of her son, she turned to the family business, started by her father, Ben, in 1955.
Her brother, Richard, had been working there for a year.
'It's been fabulous,' says Cyndie Mynatt at the dealership in Concord, N.C., just outside Charlotte. 'There are challenges, but I have a great support system. Having my brother and Dad to bounce things off is a giant safety net. They have the same long-term goals for the business that I do.'
The siblings are dealers in their own right: Richard Mynatt oversees the Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac business and about 80 employees; Cyndie Mynatt concentrates on Pontiac, Buick, GMC and her staff of 40. But there's considerable overlap in the company they market as the Ben Mynatt GM Megastore.
'I was all for her having a dealership; I just had no idea, she'd be next door,' says Richard Mynatt good-naturedly. 'I've got binoculars on my windows, so I can see what she's doing.'
'We're separate but equal,' Cyndie Mynatt counters. 'Logically, we share some things, such as the telephone and computer systems. Richard has a body shop, and I don't, so we share that. We also do a lot of marketing together - billboards, Yellow Pages - and we combine our charitable efforts, as well. We can do a lot more that way than either could separately.'
Together, the brother and sister also capitalize on each other's strengths.
'We complement each other,' Cyndie Mynatt says. 'My forte is accounting and sales; Richard's is fixed operations - service and body. He really understands that much better than I. But sometimes he'll come to me with a question about a pay plan or sales, and I'll go to him with a question about parts or pricing. He's also a very creative person and a little more aggressive about new ideas, while my style is more conservative.'
Richard Mynatt agrees with that assessment. 'It's working out really well. I've learned a lot from her, and when she has problems and questions, I've been able to help her. It's a good balance.'
Occasionally, that balance tips over, creating a few family squabbles.
'Sometimes, we do disagree, and it's tough,' Cyndie Mynatt admits. 'How we settle things depends on the issue. If I think Richard has a deeper understanding of the problem, I'll defer to his expertise, and sometimes it's the other way around. We make decisions together as best we can. Sometimes, you just have to bite your tongue and know that getting upset isn't important enough to hurt the family.'
There's also a bit of healthy competition between the two dealerships, even though they're under the same umbrella. 'I love my sister and I hate my competition,' Richard Mynatt says.
But both Mynatts agree that if they're going to lose a deal, they would rather lose it to each other, and to that end they cooperate completely, allowing sales staffs to cross the lines from one product to another seamlessly.
'My managers don't care that Richard's my brother,' Cyndie Mynatt says with a laugh. 'But my managers know his managers, and we do things outside the dealership to help everyone get to know each other.'
'We live within four miles of each other and see each other all the time, so we don't keep business out of the conversation,' Cyndie Mynatt says. 'But this isn't new to us; it's always been this way. For all those years, when my dad came home after what had to be long days, we always knew he loved being in the business.
'Our overriding values were set by Dad - that's why both stores have his name on them. The legacy he's left to this community is important, and it's important to us to keep the family, not the corporate, feel.'